ZAGREB, Dec 13, 2020 – The Constitutional Court rejected the lawsuit by former prime minister and Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leader Ivo Sanader in the Planinska case, due to which he is serving a six-year prison sentence.
With this decision all legal means of challenging the verdict before national courts have been exhausted.
The verdict in the Planinska case, in which Sanader was charged with receiving a commission of HRK 17.5 million after the state bought a building in Zagreb’s Planinska Street from the company of former HDZ MP and butchers chain owner Stjepan Fiolic during his term as prime minister, was handed down by Zagreb County Court in 2017 and upheld by the Supreme Court in April 2019.
The Supreme Court increased Sanader’s sentence to six years in prison, after which the former prime minister was sent to Zagreb’s Remetinec jail.
In the trial, Fiolic admitted that he brought HRK 10 million and another one million euros (approx. HRK 17.5 million in total) to Sanader’s home in a cardboard box. The property of Fiolic’s company was purchased by the regional development ministry, led by former minister Petar Cobankovic, who made a plea bargain with the prosecution before trail and was sentenced to one in year in prison. He did not go to prison but did community service.
Apart from them, the trial chamber in this case also convicted Mladen Mlinarevic, for whom it established that he inflated the value of the building in Zagreb’s Planinska Street owned by Fiolic before it was purchased by Cobankovic’s ministry.
In the rejected constitutional complaint, Sanader repeated that he was a victim of political persecution and that Fiolic and Cobankovic had reached agreements with the prosecution and received lighter sentences. In the complaint, Sanader called Cobankovic a “false witness” who spoke in court as instructed by the prosecution.
He also claimed that the equality of arms principle had been violated as several criminal proceedings had been conducted against him at the same time. In addition to the constitutional complaint, he also filed a motion to delay enforcement procedures and to postpone his imprisonment.
In the meantime, in November, Sanader was sentenced in a retrial to eight years in prison and ordered to return HRK 16 million in the Fimi Media case, after the non-final verdict from 2013 was quashed by the Supreme Court.
Sanader is also waiting for the Supreme Court’s decisions on several more non-final verdicts. He has been sentenced pending appeal to six years for taking a bribe from the Hungarian energy group MOL, and MOL CEO Zsolt Hernadi was sentenced to two years in prison. If the verdict becomes final, Sanader will have to return €5 million to the state.
He has also been sentenced pending appeal for taking a kickback from the Austrian Hypo bank, and he has been acquitted pending appeal for the sale of electricity from the HEP provider to a company owned by Rober Jezic at prices below the market price.