Croatian Ex-PM Sanader PM Starts Defence

Former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader on Monday denied having received funds from Hypo bank in 1994, starting his defence speech in first of two trials for bribery.”I didn’t receive or ask for any provision from Hypo bank. I always honourably served my country and I’m proud of that,” Sanader told the County Court in Zagreb.

Sanader is charged with taking 3.6 million kuna (500,000 euro) from Austria’s Hypo Bank in 1994 in order to enable the bank to enter Croatia’s banking market. He is accused of “war profiteering”, on he basis of a law adopted in 2010.

Commenting on that in court, Sanader noted that he is the only person in Croatia thus far ti face trial under that law.

“Lawyers are calling that law the ‘lex Sanader”‘, because it was written just for me”, Sanader said.

The former premier accused Jadranka Kosor, his successor as Prime Minster in July 2009, of having “ordered his prosecution to the chief prosecutor, Mladen Bajic, on January 4, 2010”. Kosor denied that claim hours later.

Sanader added that the retrograde enforcement of the mentioned law for an alleged criminal offence that occurred 16 years before the law was adopted, “violates basic foundations of the Western civilisation”.

Sanader will continue his defence speech on Tuesday, commenting on the second offence he is being tried for.

This concerns allegedly taking 10 million euro in bribes from the Hungarian oil company MOL, in order to give MOL a dominant position in the Croatian oil company, INA.

MOL was a shareholder in INA, but Sanader is accused of giving MOL more authority in the company than its shareholding should have allowed.

The two indictments were consolidated last November, soon after the trial for the Hypo Bank affair started at the end of October 2011.

The sentence in that case is expected to be issued next week.

Sanader is involved in one more trial, together with the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, the party he used to lead, and seven other HDZ officials and enterpreneurs.

They are together charged with illegally drawing millions of euro from public firms and enterprises to support a “slush fund” via a PR firm, Fimi media, after which the case was then named.

The “Fimi media” trial started in April and is expected to end in at least a year.

One more indictment has been filed against Sanader, charging him and two senior HDZ officials with selling a building, which one of them built, to the government for a much higher price.

At least one more investigation against Sanader is on-going.

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