Stjepan Mesić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR/ ds

The Zagreb Municipal Court has ruled that the Vecernji List daily must pay former president Stjepan Mesic HRK 25,000 in damages for defamation in an article published in October 2013 which alleged that in 2007 Mesic took bribes from an executive of the Finnish Patria company in exchange for helping Patria land a deal to sell military equipment to Croatia.

"As far as I am concerned, everything in that article except for my name is a lie," Mesic said when questioned in criminal proceedings regarding the case, adding that the article had affected his relations with foreign officials and representatives of various institutions because he had to explain that he had not committed any corruption-related activity not could ever have been in a position to do so.

Mesic recalled that as president he did not take part in decision-making on the procurement of weapons and that after the scandal broke out, he asked Finnish prosecutorial authorities to state their position on his case and was sent a reply saying that he had never been treated as a suspect in the case. He also said that he had never been a suspect in any case before the Croatian prosecutorial authorities either.

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