Former Croatian PM gets 6 years in jail for accepting bribe

Zagreb County Court convicted on Monday former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader for accepting bribe to cede management right of the country's oil company INA to Hungary's MOL energy group.

The court decided that MOL's CEO Zsolt Hernadi is guilty of giving a bribe. Sanader is sentenced to six years imprisonment, while Hernadi gets two years.

County Court Judge Maja Stampar Stipic explained that Sanader had arranged with Hernadi to cede controlling rights of Croatian oil company INA in exchange for 10 million euros (11.15 million U.S. dollars) toward the end of his term (2003 to 2009) as prime minister.

MOL is currently the biggest shareholder in INA with a 49 percent stake. Croatian government owns 44.8 percent while other stakes are held by private investors. The government is trying to renationalize INA and buy MOL's stake in the company.

Sanader's lawyer Jadranka Slokovic told N1 television on Monday that the defendant's rights and defense rights were systematically violated during the proceedings. She announced that they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

MOL expressed its disappointment on Monday about the verdict, citing earlier decisions by a Hungarian court as well as proceedings at the UN tribunal which concluded that there was no offense on the part of the MOL nor was it proved that the company had bribed Sanader.

Sanader, who was involved in multiple corruption cases, was arrested in late 2010 in Austria and extradited to Croatia in July 2011. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 2012, which was later reduced to eight and a half years. In 2015 the sentence was overwhelmed by the Constitutional Court based on procedural errors and sent to retrial, which started in October 2018.

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