Politicians, Current and Former, Heading to Court

Total Croatia News

Another busy year for the largest court in the country.

In 2018, the Zagreb County Court, the largest court in the country, will again see a host of trials of VIP defendants, people who were once powerful in the world of politics or business, but are now forced to come to the court building and answer charges about their alleged crimes worth tens of millions of kuna, reports Večernji List on January 27, 2018.

The most well-known among them is Ivo Sanader. The former prime minister, who found himself in legal problems after being arrested on an Austrian highway in December 2010 while trying to escape the Croatian judiciary, will attend the trial for the Fimi Media affair, and perhaps those for the Hypo and HEP-DIOKI affairs as well. The first case is a repeated trial after the Constitutional Court annulled the conviction of Sanader and his former party, HDZ. Given that more than a hundred witnesses have been heard so far, it would be realistic to expect that this process should reach the first-instance verdict by the summer.

Regarding the charges in the HEP-DIOKI case, the indictment has been returned to the Indictment Council in order to determine whether it is still founded, given that one of the defendants, Ivan Mravak, has died in the meantime. Sanader’s defense attorneys have demanded the indictment to be dismissed after Mravak’s death, saying that Mravak’s testimony was the only proof against Sanader. It is hard to expect that the trial will start this year.

However, the former Prime Minister should be able to find out whether the first-instance verdict against him in the Planinska case will become final. He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. The re-trial for the Hypo case should begin in February, while the INA-MOL case should not worry Sanader too much, given that verdict will probably not be reached before the statute of limitation expire.

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić has two cases to look forward to, the Stands affairs and the Agram affair. In the first case, the indictment has been confirmed, but the trial has not yet started. The file is still with the Supreme Court after the defense’s request for rejection of the indictment was rejected. As for the Agram case, the charge filed in 2015 has not yet become valid because the Supreme Court has not ruled whether one of Bandić’s co-defendants, who is gravely ill, can participate in the proceedings.

There are two other mayors who are being tried at the Zagreb County Court: Mayor of Varaždin Ivan Čehok and Mayor of Virovitica Ivica Kirin. These trials have been going on for some time, and at least one of them could be completed by the end of the year. However, there is significant chance that the Kirin trial will have to be restarted, given that Ratko Šćekić, the judge in the case, has been appointed to the Supreme Court, which means that a new judge will have to take over the trial.

There are several former ministers who will also have to appear in the Zagreb County Court building, for example, former Transport Minister Božidar Kalmeta, and former Culture Ministers Andrea Violić and Berislav Šipuš. The trial against Kalmeta began last year, and most of the proposed witnesses have already been examined, while the trials against the other two are yet to begin.

Among other prominent proceedings are those against Nadan Vidošević, former head of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, and Branimir Glavaš, former president of HDSSB and a Member of Parliament who has been accused of war crimes. In March, former Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect Marina Lovrić Merzel will be tried, as well as former Tax Administration director Nada Čavlović Smiljanec.

Some of the most interesting proceedings expected are those against Tomislav Saucha, former SDP’s MP who has crossed sides and is currently one of the handful of MPs who secure a parliamentary majority for the government. Saucha and his former secretary Sandra Zeljko have been charged for stealing money by reporting fake travel expenses while Saucha was chief of staff of former Prime Minister Zoran Milanović, but the indictment has not yet been confirmed. In there is no obstruction, it is expected that this trial could begin during 2018.

Translated from Večernji List.


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