Croatia: Court Denies Former Prime Minister Sanader’s Plea for Release

The Supreme Court of Croatia in Zagreb has denied a plea to free the disgraced former prime minister, Ivo Sanader, from custody.

Screen Shot 2015 08 28 at 3.51.31 PMIvo Sanader making his first appearance at court in October 2011.The request, lodged by Sanader’s lawyers and rejected by the court Wednesday, called for Sanader’s release from detention that has lasted now for a combined period of nearly four years, based on his involvement in several separate court cases.

Sanader was taken into Remetinic Prison in Zagreb since July 2011, having been arrested in Austria while on the run from authorities after he was accused of corruption.

Apart from a short exemption period, he has been held there ever since as a series of complex cases and rulings unfolded.

In a first instance ruling, the former premier was sentenced in November 2012 to ten years in prison for bribery, abuse of office and war profiteering. That sentence was later reduced to eight-and-a-half years.

As Sanader was serving this sentence, he was also in the throes of an appeal against a nine-year sentence for corruption in a separate case, in which prosecutors alleged he had used private marketing companies to siphon off public funds from state institutions. This is known as the Fimi Media case. 

Last month, Croatia’s constitutional court overturned the eight-and-a-half year war profiteering sentence, citing procedural errors. That gave him the right to be released from incarceration linked to that particular case.

Sanader remained, however, behind bars. His status in prison merely switched as he commenced pre-trial detention for the Fimi Media case. His re-trial on those charges is set for September.

Sanader’s lawyers attempted to argue that the Croatian legal limit for pre-trial detention, which is set at a maximum of three-and-a-half years, had expired, and asked that Sanader be released until the Fimi Media re-trial.

The court rejected the plea on the grounds that he had been detained in connection with several different cases, and that those periods of detention could not be counted cumulatively.