Croatia: Court Rejects Former Prime Minister's Bail Offer

A Croatian Court has rejected an attempt to post bail by Ivo Sanader, the former Croatian Prime Minister who stands accused of siphoning off state-owned assets through a private marketing firm during his term in office, among other charges.

Ivo SanaderSanader – the main figure in a series of high-level corruption, war profiteering and kickback cases that have shaken Croatia since 2011 –has not been able to provide a satisfactory asset to cover his nearly US$ 2 million bail, according to Zagreb County Court.

Sanader's bail was set on Oct. 1, when the Croatian Supreme Court accepted his appeal against a nine-year prison sentence he received in March 2014 in a case known as “Fimi Media”, and ordered a retrial.

In that case, he was found to be the main conspirator involved in siphoning off almost € 10 million Euros (US$ 11.34 million) from state-owned institutions and companies through a private marketing firm, to the benefit of his right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party during his 2003 to 2009 term as Prime Minister. HDZ was fined more than US$ 4.4 million in the same case.

On Thursday, Sanader offered to substitute the requested bail amount of 12.4 million Croatian kuna (US$ 1,827,076) with seven properties. They are intended to guarantee he won't leave the country if he is allowed to leave Remetinac prison, where he is currently detained, pending trial.

Croatian public television (HRT) reports that Zagreb County Court spokesperson Kresimir Devcic confirmed Monday that the court would not accept three of the properties offered: a part of Sanader's family house owned by his wife Mirjana Sanader, land and a house owned by HDZ lawmaker Luka Bebic, and an apartment owned by another HDZ member, Josip Rados.

Devcic said the court found Mirjana Sanader was not actually the owner of the part of the family house offered and that, even if she were, a formal estimate of the property's value had never been obtained.

The land and house owned by Luka Bebic is also inadmissible, since Bebic's offer to mortgage the property does not match the official court appraiser's estimated value of the assets.

Meanwhile the mortgage approval for Rados's aparment was provided by Rados's wife, who did not prove she had the power of attorney needed to offer the property.

Sanader has already once attempted to post bail in the same case using property. On Oct. 6, the court declined to substitute his bail with a part of Sanader's family house and a villa owned by his lawyer Goran Suic. The court found Sanader's wife's property could not be admitted because of certification issues, while the villa owned by Suic was not presented with the correct construction permit.

Sanader is the highest ranking official to ever be indicted in Croatia.

Apart from the Fimi Media case, Sanader has been accused of several other multi-million dollar corruption cases, the most prominent of which has also been successfully appealed.

In June 2014, he received an eight-and-a-half year prison sentence for war profiteering and receiving kickbacks. The Constitutional Court has ordered a retrial citing, again, procedural errors.

Sanader denies any wrongdoing and maintains that all the charges against him are politically motivated.