Sanader Trial: Ex-PM ‘Betrayed National Interest’

Ivo Sanader ‘betrayed vital national interests’, prosecutors said in their closing words on Wednesday in the bribery trial concerning Hypo bank and the Hungarian oil company MOL.”Sanader used his official posts, from becoming deputy Foreign Minister in 1994 to Prime Minister in 2008, for his own private interests,” Vanja Marusic said in the prosecutor’s final speech.

Sanader is charged with taking half a million euro from Austria’s Hypo bank in 1994 to allow the bank to enter the Croatian financial market.

He is also charged with 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 in November 2011, soon after the trial for the Hypo bank affair started in October 2011.

Marusic said that Sanader had perpetrated other criminal offences, but that they had not been prosecuted yet “because of a lack of time”.

Tamara Laptos, also for the prosecution, said that Sanader was “chief negotiator” with Hypo bank in 1994, adding that he “allowed Hypo bank to enter the Croatian market for half a million euro.

“That was war profiteering because a war was going on at that time in Croatia”, Laptos said, referring to the country’s internal conflicts with Serb rebels.

Sanader denied the allegations. “These allegations are nothing new, we heard them at the beginning of the trial”, he said after the court session.

“I and my defence team proved them wrong. I didn’t decide anything by myself. The decisions we made were good for the country. It is important that INA managers are succesful, not which nationality they are.”

If the court finds him guilty, he could face 15 years in jail.

The defence will deliver its final speech on Thursday, and the sentence could be handed down as early as next week.

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