A court in Zagreb has sentenced Ivo Sanader, who was the country’s prime minister from 2003 to 2009, to 10 years in jail for bribery and has given him 15 days to pay back 3.6 million Croatian kuna to the state budget.
Sanader (59), who resigned abruptly from office, was taken into custody on an international arrest warrant in Austria in December 2010 and extradited to Croatia in July 2011, where he went on trial in November for accepting bribes from Austria’s Hypo Bank in 1995 when he was deputy foreign minister and for taking a 10 million euro bribe from Hungarian oil giant MOL in 2008.
Sanader was given three-and-a-half years in prison in the Hypo Bank case and seven years in the MOL case.
Lawyers for Sanader, who has criticised his trial as politically-motivated, said that he would appeal against the verdict. Both the prosecution and the accused have the right to appeal against the November 20 2012 finding by the Zagreb court.
The European Commission, which has been monitoring the trial in a country which is scheduled to join the EU in July 2013, said that it took note of the court finding, said that Croatia had made great strides in the rule of law and urged Zagreb to continue the fight against corruption.
Sanader is also on trial in another case, on allegations that he exploited public money to set up a slush fund for his Croatian Democratic Union party.
* Coincidentally, November 20 saw reports that a Serbian former deputy prime minister, Jožef Kasa, was among four suspects sought for alleged abuse of office in connection with the now-bankrupt Agrobanka bank. Kasa allegedly committed abuse of office while he was head of an Agrobanka branch in the town of Subotica.