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    Croatia corruption case. Former prime minister found guilty.

    A Croatian court ruled yesterday that the head of Hungarian energy group MOL and Croatia’s former prime minister were guilty in a corruption case. This event opens a new chapter in a legal saga that has dragged on for almost a decade.

     

    MOL’s Chief Executive and Chairman, Zsolt Hernadi, was found guilty of bribing former Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, in 2008 to allow MOL to become the key decision-maker in Croatian energy firm INA. MOL is INA’s biggest shareholder, owning close to 50% while the Croatian state owns 45%.

     

     ”First defendant, Ivo Sanader, based on Article 341 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, is hereby sentenced to six years in prison. The second defendant, Zsolt Tamas Hernadi, based on Article 348, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, is hereby sentenced to two years in prison”- says Maja Stampar-Stipic, Zagreb County Court Judge.

    Hernadi and Sanader were handed prison sentences of two and six years respectively. The ruling is not final and can be appealed. The defence lawyers of both men said they were disappointed with the court’s verdict and conduct of the trial.

     

     ”I believe the Supreme Court will squash this verdict, on the grounds that during the trial Mr Sanader’s rights were violated. I have never seen trial hearings conducted this way before. For example, one hearing was held without the presence of one of the judges, without the defence agreeing to it taking place”- says Jadranka slokovic, Ivo Sanader’s defense Lawyer.

    Hernadi and Sanader, who was prime minister from 2003 until 2009, have denied any wrongdoing in the case that was originally launched by Croatia’s anti-corruption agency. Sanader was initially sentenced to 8-1/2 years in prison in 2014 for taking a bribe from MOL, but Croatia’s Constitutional Court in 2015 ordered a retrial, citing procedural errors. Hungary has refused to heed an international Interpol arrest warrant for Hernadi.
     

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