Croatia’s former Prime Minister and leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Ivo Sanader, has been sentenced to six years in prison today by the Supreme Court for corruption. The hearing today in the court upheld the decision of 2017 to convict Sanader of corruption charges, after he and his legal team had launched appeals.
Sanader, who was the Prime Minster of Croatia from 2003 to 2009, was, following the court’s ruling, picked up by police at his home in Zagreb and escorted to prison to start his six-year sentence. As the police collected him he continued to protest his innocence to the waiting media.
"This is a show trial. I still believe that this is a case of politically motivated persecution. I will continue to fight with all means available to me to prove my innocence. The charges against me make no sense, they are all lies, each and every one of them. I'm ready to face anything, and in the end I will prove my innocence," commented Sanader as he was driven away by police.
Originally Sanader had received a four and a half year sentence for corruption in a case that was nicknamed “Planinska Affair.” This corruption case saw the former Prime Minister help former HDZ MP, Stjepan Fiolic, sell a building in Planinska Street in Zagreb to the Regional Development Ministry in 2009 for a hugely inflated price. Sanader received a €2.3 million kickback for setting up the deal, and it was also revealed in court that Fiolic had falsified the buildings paperwork including the property’s value.
The deal was sealed with another HDZ politician, and in fact former minister, Petar Cobankovic, who in his role at the time as the Regional Development Minister helped purchase the building through his ministry. He pleaded guilty before the trail actually started and received a one-year sentence which was later converted to community service. Fiolic received the same sentence and his was also transferred to community service, and he was also ordered by the court to repay the corrupted funds he received for his part in the deal.
Apart from his six-year sentence Sanader was also ordered to pay back the €2.3 million kickback he received. However, this isn’t the end of Sanader’s woes and he faces two more court appearances on corruption charges.