Former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor testified on Tuesday at the corruption trial of her own party, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, and of its previous leader, Ivo Sanader, denying all knowledge of so-called party slush funds.Kosor was among dozens of witnessess to testify in the biggest case in Croatian legal history.
Ivo Sanader, former HDZ leader and ex-Prime Minister, together with seven other HDZ officials and enterpreneurs, have been charged with illegally financing the HDZ with millions of euros drawn from public firms and enterprises.The so-called “Fimi media case” was named after the firm through which the money was allegedly channelled.
The HDZ is accused of illegally taking 30 million kuna (4 million euros), while Sanader is charged with illegally taking half of that sum.
But Kosor said in court that “no official HDZ organ ever decided that party should finance itself from slush funds.
“Any such decision would have been disastrous. The party that leads the country must serve as an example,” Kosor said.
She testified for two hours, answering the questions of prosecutor Zeljka Mostecak, and Sanader’s lawyer, Cedo Prodanovic, and Sanader himself.
Kosor denied the claims of former HDZ treasurer Mladen Barisic, who was also indicted and later confessed guilt, that Sanader told Kosor herself that “elections couldn’t be won by legal money alone but only with two-thirds illegal and one-third legal money”.
Barisic said this in his testimony to the Croatian anticorruption office USKOK. He claimed Sanader had said these words to Kosor on July 1, 2009, the day he resigned as Prime Minister.
Barisic added Sanader had informed Kosor of the existence of 300,000 euro and 2 million kuna (about 300,000 euro) in cash, which Barisic was keeping for the party.
Sanader resigned without proper explanation on July 1, 2009, naming Kosor, his party’s president deputy at the time, as his successor as Prime Minister.
Four months later, Kosor dismissed Barisic as HDZ treasurer. He brought the cash, which Sanader allegedly mentioned to Kosor, the HDZ, where it was put into the party treasury, but not registered in the party’s official financial documents.
“Barisic never indicated in any way that this money could be problematic. He said the money had been collected through donations,” Kosor told the court.
Nine months later, in October 2010, Kosor handed the money to Chief Prosecutor Mladen Bajic. “I did that after the media started to speculate that Barisic’s money could be illegal,” Kosor said in court.
After the trial session, Sanader expressed satisfaction with Kosor’s testimony.
“She said the truth. The thesis of some of the indictees, who wanted to transfer their own responsibility to the HDZ and to me, has crumbled today,” Sanader said.
Before Kosor spoke, several high HDZ officials also testified in the court, among them two general secretaries, Ivan Jarnjak and Branko Bacic.
The trial started 16 April, and could last for two years, analysts consider.