European Court Supports Croatia in Arrest Warrant Dispute with Hungary

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, July 25, 2018 – The Court of Justice of the European Union said on Wednesday that Hungary should not have ignored an arrest warrant in the case of MOL energy group CEO Zsolt Hernadi only based on a decision of its Public Prosecutor’s Office to close a criminal investigation within which he was questioned only as a witness.

“Judicial authorities of the member states are required to adopt a decision on any European arrest warrant communicated to them,” the Court said in a press release, without identifying Hernadi.

It only said the person in question, “a Hungarian national, is the chairman of the board of directors of a Hungarian company against whom criminal proceedings have been initiated in Croatia” and that he “is suspected of having agreed to pay a considerable amount of money to a holder of a high office in Croatia, in return for the conclusion of an agreement between the Hungarian company and the Croatian government.”

The press release said “the Court finds that the execution of a European arrest warrant cannot be refused on the basis of a decision of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which closed an investigation opened against an unknown person, during which the person who is the subject of that arrest warrant was interviewed as a witness only, without criminal proceedings having been brought against that person and where the decision was not taken in respect of that person.”

The European arrest warrant for Hernadi, which some states have ignored, was issued after Croatia’s USKOK anti-corruption office accused him of giving former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader 10 million euro in bribes so that MOL could have management rights in Croatian oil company INA.

In December 2015, Sanader’s corruption trial was combined with Hernadi’s case, but the latter’s defence asked that the case file be translated into Hungarian. They also claimed that Hernadi had been acquitted of bribing Sanader in a private suit in Hungary.

At the end of 2017, Croatia’s Supreme Court quashed a decision of 30 May 2017 whereby Zagreb’s County Court suspended the Sanader-Hernadi trial while ruling on appeals filed by USKOK and Hernadi’s defence. Last week, the County Court adjourned a preliminary hearing in the proceedings until September.


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