Former Croatian PM jailed for taking bribes
Former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader has been sentenced to a decade in jail for taking millions of euro in bribes, as Zagreb seeks to reassure the EU that it is fighting corruption before joining the bloc next July.
Mr Sanader (59) was found guilty yesterday of taking a €5 million bribe from Hungarian energy firm Mol in 2008, to ensure that it gained management control over Croatian oil and gas company Ina.
Judge Ivan Turudic also found that Mr Sanader had taken a kickback of some €500,000 from Austrian bank Hypo Alpe Adria in 1995, when he was deputy foreign minister.
Prosecutors characterised his role in helping the bank secure a lucrative credit deal as “war-profiteering”, coming as it did during the final months of Croatia’s war for independence from Yugoslavia.
“Without a doubt, you have committed these criminal acts, abusing the powers of your office as prime minister and, earlier, as deputy foreign minister,” the judge told the Zagreb court.
“As a senior official of the republic of Croatia you hurt its interests and its image internationally ... This verdict sends a message that committing criminal acts does not pay.”
The former prime minister appeared calm when the verdict was delivered.
Mr Sanader denied all the charges against him and said he was the victim of a political smear campaign.
He is expected to appeal against yesterday’s verdict.
Mr Sanader dominated Croatian politics as prime minister between 2004 and 2009, when he abruptly resigned.
He was arrested in Austria in 2010.
In Hungary, Mol insisted it “did not give any kind of payment to politicians or decision-makers” and said it saw the court case as “less about Mol and Ina and more as a Croatian political matter”.