Croatia: Former Prime Minister Sentenced to 10 Years

A Croatia court has sentenced former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader to 10 years in prison.

Sanader, who led Croatia from 2003 until an abrupt resignation in 2009, fled the country shortly before several indictments for corruption were issued and was extradited from Austria in 2011. The AP reports that he is the highest-ranking government official ever to be tried for corruption in Croatia.

Judges found Sanader guilty of accepting a €10 million ($13 million) bribe from Hungarian oil company MOL in return for securing it controlling rights in Croatia's state oil company INA, and receiving €545,000 ($695,000) in kickbacks from Hypo Alpe Adria Group that gave the Austrian bank a leading position in the Croatian market in 1995. Prosecutors characterized that crime as “war profiteering.”  

Sanader also stands accused of creating slush funds for his political party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), by skimming profits from state companies and manipulating public funds. Sanader has denied any wrongdoing, saying that the case against him has been politically motivated.

Croatia expects to join the EU in July of 2013 and has pledged to root our graft before membership is finalized.