The Croatian Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed a verdict against former prime minister and HDZ party leader Ivo Sanader in the Hypo Bank case in which, after a retrial, in late October 2018 Sanader was found guilty and sentenced to two and a half years in prison for war profiteering.
The prosecution charged Sanader with having taken a HRK 3.6 million commission in late 1994 and early 1995, when he was deputy foreign minister, after the Austrian-owned Hypo Bank approved Croatia a loan to buy buildings to house its diplomatic offices.
Since during the period in question there was a state of imminent threat of war in Croatia, Sanader was also charged with war profiteering.
The first, sentencing verdict in this case, which was handed down on Sanader together with a verdict for taking bribes from MOL CEO Zsolt Hernadi in exchange for ceding management rights in INA to the Hungarian oil company MOL, was quashed by the Constitutional Court in 2014, when a retrial was ordered.
The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that it had granted the indictee’s appeal and quashed the Zagreb County Court verdict in the case.
At the 22 February public hearing of the Supreme Court, Sanader and his defence asked that the sentenced be either changed or the ruling quashed, while the prosecution demanded a hasher sentence.
“Closer analysis is required in the retrial to determine if the indictee’s conduct contained the constituent elements of the crime of abuse of office” and if the application of the law exempting war profiteering from the statute of limitations is warranted, the Supreme Court said.
The highest court noted that the court of first instance failed to correctly determine how exactly Sanader’s conduct had affected the material conditions of the population and the economic potential of the state, as well as its other financial interests in times of war.