ZAGREB, February 20, 2019 – The corruption trial of former prime minister Ivo Sanader and Zsolt Hernadi, CEO of the Hungarian energy company MOL, was adjourned at the Zagreb County Court on Tuesday due to Sanader’s health after defence counsel were fined for contempt of presiding judge Maja Štampar Stipić.
Hernadi is beyond the reach of Croatian authorities.
Sanader’s counsel Jadranka Sloković requested that the main hearing be adjourned until after it was established if he was fit to stand trial. The defendant said he could not be present for long testimonies for health reasons.
The questioning of witnesses was adjourned until February 25, by which time it will be determined if Sanader is fit to stand trial.
He suggested that a medical expert determine if he could be present at the hearings and for how long in a day. He made this suggestion “so as to avoid being crucified in public.”
Due to raised voices and the insulting of presiding judge Maja Štampar Stipić, she fined Sloković and Hernadi’s counsel Laura Valković 10,000 kuna.
The court heard Davor Štern, former director general and supervisory board chairman of INA, who said the Croatian energy company’s poor business had almost bankrupted it in 2008.
Štern said that when he served as director general from 1997 to 2000, INA was Croatia’s most important company and that “it remains so today.”
Speaking of INA-MOL relations, he said MOL employees were part of INA’s management and that they had more access to public data on INA than the Croats on the management board. “We were not at war with MOL but they didn’t act friendly. We saw to the interests of INA’s shareholders and the interests of the Croatian government, which appointed us to the supervisory board.”
In the INA-MOL case, Sanader was convicted to 10 years in prison for taking a bribe from Hernadi, but the Supreme Court reduced the sentence to 8.5 years. The ruling was eventually quashed by the Constitutional Court.
The USKOK anti-corruption office accused Sanader of giving controlling rights in INA to MOL for EUR 10 million and of arranging with Hernadi the divesting of INA’s unprofitable gas business.
More news on the corruption in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.