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News 16 Jun 14

Croatia Ex-PM Sanader’s Graft Sentence Upheld

The supreme court confirmed the guilty verdict against former premier Ivo Sanader, jailing him for eight and a half years for for taking a bribe from a Hungarian oil company.

Sven Milekic

The court in Zagreb on Friday confirmed that Sanader would go to jail but reduced the sentence from ten years to eight and a half.

Sanader, who was the country's premier from 2003 to 2009, was convicted of taking bribes from Hungarian oil group MOL in exchange for allowing it to take a dominant position in Croatian oil firm INA.

He was also ordered to pay around 480,000 euro in fines and court costs.

Sanader and MOL had denied the allegations.

" MOL strongly rejects any suggestion of improper business conduct and will continue to defend against any allegations of illegal practices," MOL said in a statement quoted by the Reuters news agancy.

Croatian President Ivo Josipovic meanwhile stripped Sanader of state awards granted for his role in office.

“Now, when the judgment is final, I can characterise the whole case with one phrase – high treason,” Josipovic said.

The supreme court's decision means that there could be grounds for Zagreb to challenge the disputed INA shareholder agreement reached with MOL while Sanader was in office in 2009.

The court said last week that it would also try MOL chairman Zsolt Hernadi in absentia over the same corruption allegations.

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