Former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was sentenced on Monday to 2.5 years in prison for war profiteering and ordered to return to the state budget 3.6 million Croatian kuna (about 550,000 U.S. dollars).
Sanader was convicted because the court found that in the 1990s he received as the deputy foreign minister from the Austrian Hypo Bank a commission of 3.6 million kuna and helped the bank secure a privileged position on the Croatian market.
The Austrian bank was then offering loans to Croatia in order for the war-torn country to buy diplomatic buildings overseas.
Judge Jasna Galesic said in the explanation of the verdict that the bribe was used for personal gain and declined the claims of the dependant lawyers that a statute of limitations had started.
The court deemed it as war profiteering because the case happened during the war when the major part of the budget was used for the country’s defense. Sanader still has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Sanader’s lawyers have announced that they will appeal, although the former Prime Minister will not go to jail because he has been in jail in Austria and Croatia on two occasions for more than 2.5 years.
Four more court proceedings are under way against Sanader, including the accusation that he had asked public companies to finance Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) when he was the president of the party.
Sanader served as Prime Minister for two terms from 2003 to 2009. At the end of the second term he resigned without explaining the reasons.
He was involved in multiple corruption cases. He was arrested in late 2010 in Austria and was extradited to Croatia in July 2011.
(Source: Xinhua, photo vijesti.hr)