Trial of Former Prime Minister Sanader Starts Again

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, March 23, 2018 – Former prime minister Ivo Sanader again pleaded not guilty to charges of war profiteering at the start of a retrial in the Hypo corruption case on Friday.

“I plead not guilty,” the former PM and former leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said after the prosecutor read out an indictment which alleges that in the mid-1990s, acting as deputy foreign minister, he received a commission from the Austrian Hypo bank which at the time of Croatia’s 1991-1995 war of independence granted the country a loan for the purchase of buildings to house its diplomatic offices.

Sanader had been found guilty in this case, but the final verdict was quashed by the Constitutional Court in 2014 and a retrial was ordered to take place before the Zagreb County Court.

In its opening statement, the prosecution underlined that it was confident all the allegations from the indictment would be proven during the retrial while the defence said that no crime had been committed and that the statute of limitations in the case had expired. On the other hand, the prosecution believes that the statute of limitations has not run out.

Noting that “high-level corruption in time of war jeopardised the very foundations of Croatia’s statehood”, the prosecution said that Sanader acquired illegal gain of as much as 2,000 average Croatian wages at the time.

Sanader’s defence said that it would prove that he did not commit the crime he was charged with because he was not the government’s negotiator regarding the Hypo bank loan for the purchase of embassy buildings. They said that they would prove that the commission was paid to a person identifying himself as Eugen Laxa, “most probably a bank employee who used that name to seek a commission for himself.”

Apart from war profiteering, the verdict against Sanader in the first trial in this case also convicted him for taking bribes from the Hungarian oil company MOL. The Supreme Court reduced his 10-year prison sentence to eight and a half years.

In the meantime, the two cases have been separated, and in the INA-MOL case Sanader is expected to stand trial again with MOL CEO Zsolt Hernadi, who is beyond the reach of Croatian authorities.


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