Former PM Ivo Sanader Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for INA-MOL Affair

Lauren Simmonds

As Index writes on the 30th of December, 2019, former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader (HDZ) and Hungarian MOL’s main man Zsolt Hernádi have been found guilty of accepting bribes in the INA-MOL case today, for which Ivo Sanader was sentenced to six years in prison, and Hernádi to two years in prison.

Explaining the final verdict, Zagreb County Court Judge Maja Štampar Stipić said that ex PM Ivo Sanader had agreed with Hernádi that he would leave the decisive vote on INA’s business to Hungary’s MOL for the sum of 10 million euros. In doing so, he used his position and the authority of the Prime Minister to show that it was necessary to separate the gas business and change the inter-share agreement.

The non-binding verdict in the retrial was announced in front of an empty bench for the defendants because Hernádi was unavailable to the Croatian judiciary while Ivo Sanader remained in Zagreb’s Remetinec prison.

As he recently underwent surgery, which in the court’s view was not necessary, Ivo Sanader was not present at the closing speeches in the case. USKOK (Croatian State Prosecutor’s Office for the Suppression of Organised Crime and Corruption)  then concluded that Ivo Sanader threatened the state’s interests by receiving bribes from co-defendant Hernádi, while their defense, on the other hand, argued that there was no basis for the conviction.

According to the final verdict, Robert Ježić’s company, which admitted that Ivo Sanader was paid half of the agreed bribe through them, should pay back five million euros to the Croatian state.

Lawyer Jadranka Sloković: We knew it would turn out like this:

“We’re not surprised the whole proceeding went this way. The rights of the defendants and the defense were violated during the proceedings. We’ll write an appeal, we knew the outcome much earlier. This is a court failure, almost all witnesses were rejected. The verdict is based on the testimony of a person who said she spent all of the money entirely.

Our October appeal was only submitted to the Supreme Court in November, which largely determined the outcome of the trial. I believe the Supreme Court will have a lot of work to do.

The court claims Sanader could have cancelled the operation, but he has been going through court proceedings for 10 years now, he couldn’t postpone it because he would then be charged again with obstruction of the procedure,” Jadranka Sloković said after the verdict.

“Ivo Sanader’s expectations are such that he expects nothing from the Zagreb County Court. He’s still in rehab,” Sloković said.

“We’re pleased with what we’ve achieved. All that we found in the first trial has now been confirmed. As far as the sentence is concerned, it is too mild and we will appeal it,” a statement from USKOK said.

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