London Court Delays Todorić Extradition Hearing to October

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 6, 2018 – London’s High Court on Thursday postponed until mid-October a hearing at which it is supposed to decide on the handover of businessman Ivica Todorić to Croatia, after lawyer James Hines, who defends the founder of the Croatian retail and food group Agrokor, told the court that the defence team had new evidence.

Barrister Hines requested an additional 28 days to submit a request that his client be entitled to an appeal against a first-instance ruling on his handover to Croatia, claiming that the defence counsel possessed new evidence.

The Court granted this request and scheduled a new hearing for the week starting on 15 October. On that occasion, the defence team is supposed to outline a plan with new evidence, and the presiding judge today insisted that it had to be new evidence and not the rearrangement of old pieces of evidence.

Hines today told the court that documents which leaked in the media from the Croatian Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) could serve as evidence to corroborate the claims by Todorić that an investigation against him in Croatia had been affected by political influence.

Todorić, who is fighting his extradition to Croatia where he is wanted for embezzlement of money from the Agrokor conglomerate, arrived at the court this morning in the company of lawyers Hines and Cherie Blair, the wife of former long-serving British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as his two Croatian lawyers.

On July 24, London’s Westminster Magistrates Court overturned Todorić’s appeal against a first-instance ruling of April 23 under which he was to be extradited to Croatia. After his appeal was rejected, Todorić asked the court for one more chance to be heard, which was granted and a hearing was scheduled for September 6.

On April 23, Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot approved Todorić’s extradition, rejecting defence claims that he was a victim of political persecution in Croatia. “I accept that the Agrokor affair has a political dimension as it represents 15 percent of the GDP of Croatia, but the prosecution is based on the evidence uncovered and is not being pursued because of political pressure,” she said.

After the Agrokor debt crisis broke out, Todorić fled to London, where he was arrested on 7 November 2017 on a European warrant issued by Croatia. He was released on bail, but he had to hand over his passport and was ordered to wear an electronic tag and report to police three times a week. He said then that he would use every legal means available in the UK to avoid handover to Croatia.

Todorić, his two sons and 12 Agrokor executives and auditors are suspected of fraud totalling 1.142 billion kuna (153 million euro).

Todorić said on Thursday he was pleased with the decision of the High Court in London to schedule a new hearing for October following his request to appeal a decision on his extradition to Croatia, saying this was a victory of those fighting against corruption in Croatia.

“I’d like to once again thank the English court for adopting a just decision,” Todorić told reporters, saying that they now had more time to prepare and fight for the truth. “I thank everyone for the victory. This is not my victory. This is the victory of all those fighting against corruption in Croatia and I congratulate them too because together we are going ahead to uncover what’s not right in Croatia and the region,” Todorić said.

One of his attorneys, Cherie Blair, said this case would come to court again in a month’s time and that it would be an opportunity to shed light on what was going on in Croatia.

Asked if she believed Todorić’s prosecution was politically motivated, Blair said she would not comment until after the court made a decision.


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