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news 11 Mar 14

Former Croatian Premier Jailed for Nine Years

Ivo Sanader was sentenced to nine years in prison for his key role in the so-called 'Fimi media' corruption case on Tuesday.

Josip Ivanovic

After nearly two years on trial, a court in Zagreb jailed Croatia's former premier, Ivo Sanader, for nine years for corruption on Tuesday.

The verdict, read out by Judge Ivana Calic, said Sanader had “completely demolished people's faith in the governments institutions... [and] created an image of politicians as above the law".

He and his former political party, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, were found guilty of siphoning off 70 million kuna (more than 9 million euros) of public money for the party through a marketing agency, Fimi Media, between 2003 and 2009.

The court said Sanader had organized a group of people, including Ratko Macek, Mladen Barisic, Branka Pavoseciv and Nevenka Jurak, with the purpose of committing a crime.

All except Sanader and Macek pleaded guilty earlier in the trial.

Former HDZ treasurer Barisic was sentenced to three years in prison, Pavosevic for 18 months, while Macek received a one-year suspended sentence.

"I don't consider myself guilty for a single point of the indictment. The indictment is a construction and I will prove that," Sanader said when the trial began in April 2012.

His prison term will be decreased by the amount of time he has already spent in jail, from December 2010 to December 2011.

More than 15 million kuna (around 2 million euro) will be confiscated from him as illegally acquired assets.

The court also ordered his former party, the HDZ, to repay 24.2 million kuna (more than 3 million euro).

The court said this represented the material benefit of the criminal offences committed by the accused members of the HDZ. The party was also fined an additional 5 million kuna (more than 650,000 euro).

The court jailed Jurak, owner of Fimi Media, for two years. Her marketing agency is to be abolished after it repays 11 million kuna (around 1.4 million euro), determined by the court as illegally acquired assets.

The case came to court following an investigation by the Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime, USKOK.

In her closing speech at the trial, the deputy chief of USKOK, Zeljka Mostecak, accused Sanader of “an extraordinary abuse of power and  position, with the exclusive purpose of acquiring money and maintaining power and with an absolute lack of any responsibility”.

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