Croatia: Former Prime Minister Jailed for Corruption
Former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was sentenced to nine years in jail on Tuesday for siphoning more than US$12 million of state money for his political party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).
Balkan Insight reports that Sanader, who served as Croatia’s head of government from 2004-2009 and is the highest-ranking former official ever tried in the country, was ordered to repay nearly US $2.8 million.
According to the Associated Press, HDZ, his former conservative party which led Croatia to independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, was ordered to pay more than US$5 million in restitution.
Both Sanader and the HDZ party were found guilty of siphoning the money through the Fimi Media marketing agency between 2003 and 2009, reports Balkan Insight.
Judge Ivana Calic, who read the verdict, said Sanader had “completely demolished people's faith in the governments institutions... [and] created an image of politicians as above the law."
The court said Sanader worked with former HDZ treasurer Mladen Barisic, Ratko Macek, Branka Pavoseciv and the owner of Fimi Media, Nevenka Jurak, to commit the crime.
Barisic was sentenced to three years in prison, Pavosevic was given 18 months, and Macek received a one-year suspended sentence. The court sentenced Jurak to two years in prison and said her marketing agency will be dissolved after it repays US $2 million.
All except Sanader and Macek pled guilty earlier in the trial, which began in April 2012.
"I don't consider myself guilty for a single point of the indictment. The indictment is a construction and I will prove that," Sanader said when proceedings began.
This is the second conviction for Sanader who, in a separate case in 2012, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for accepting a US $13 million bribe from a Hungarian oil company, reports the Associated Press.
According to Balkan Insight, the former prime minister’s prison term will be reduced by the amount of time he has already spent in jail.