Sanader.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Damir SENČAR / mm

Former prime minister Ivo Sanader on Monday started presenting his defence in a corruption case dubbed "Planinska", insisting that in this case, just as in the previous trials whose verdicts have been quashed by higher courts, he was a victim of political persecution and conspiracy by the USKOK anti-corruption office.

"I am not a criminal and did not do what I am charged with. I am proud of my two terms as Prime Minister and of the results we achieved, from excellent economic results to the reforms we conducted," said Sanader.

In the Planinska case, Sanader is charged with having received bribes in the amount of HRK 17 million (approx. EUR 2.23 million) after the Regional Development Ministry in 2009 bought a building from a company run by former Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) member of Parliament and owner of a chain of butcher shops, Stjepan Fiolic, who admitted to having given the money to Sanader.

Apart from Fiolic, who was also indicted in this case despite the fact that he admitted to the charges, former Regional Development Minister Petar Cobankovic, too, admitted to the charges, after which he plea-bargained with the prosecution and was sentenced to community service.

"In each case that is conducted against me at the Zagreb County Court, there is one person, an indictee, a suspect, who admits to their alleged wrongdoing and is pressured by the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor to shift the responsibility onto me... That was the case with Robert Jezic in the Hypo and INA-MOL cases, with Mladen Barisic in the Fimi Media case, with Fiolic in the Planinska case, and with Ivan Mravak in the HEP-Dioki case," Sanader told the court.

He recalled that by quashing the verdict in the Hypo and INA-MOL cases, the Constitutional Court concluded that the County Court must not criminalise government decisions. "Similarity with the Planinska case is evident. The reason why that happened - the criminal prosecution launched by USKOK was politically motivated," Sanader said, insisting that his criminal prosecution had been initiated by his deputy Jadranka Kosor and former Chief State Prosecutor Mladen Bajic.

Sanader will be presenting his defence in the Planinska case for three days in January, after which other defendants will present their defence.

Also charged in this case is Mladen Mlinarevic, whose company, according to USKOK, had appraised and doubled the value of the building for which Sanader received bribes before it was bought by the ministry run by Cobankovic at the time.

Related stories

Sanader's verdict in Planinska case postponed

Ex-PM Sanader on trial again in Fimi Media case

Court approves properties for Sanader's bail

Ex-PM released from investigative custody

Latest news

Plane crashes at airport in Melbourne

A five-passenger charter plane has crashed into a building next to Essendon Airport in Melbourne, with witnesses reporting explosions, fire and black smoke, police said Tuesday.

Air France pilots give green light to lower cost subsidiary

Members of Air France's main pilots union on Monday voted to accept the creation of a new lower cost subsidiary that the flag carrier hopes will help it compete on long-haul routes.

US Army General McMaster tapped as Trump's national security advisor

Army Lieutenant General HR McMaster will be the new White House national security advisor, US President Donald Trump told reporters Monday.

Greece's creditors want sweeping reforms before next bailout payment

Greece must make sweeping reforms to its labour market, pension system and collective bargaining agreements in order to receive its next vital bailout payment, the country's European creditors said Monday.

President wants to recall "politically appointed ambassadors", can't do it without gov't

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said that many politically appointed Croatian ambassadors were not carrying out state policies but that she could not replace them without the government to appoint career diplomats who would fight for Croatia's interests.

Izetbegovic hopes ICJ will confirm Serbia's responsibility for genocide

The Bosniak member of the tripartite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegovic, on Monday rejected criticism stirred up by the announcement that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would be requested to review its judgement made after Bosnia sued Serbia for genocide.

British lawmakers locked in heated debate over Trump's state visit

Allowing US President Donald Trump to visit Britain would be akin to "pimping out the Queen," one British lawmaker said Monday during a heated debate in British parliament over two petitions concerning the US leader's future state visit.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's sharp-tongued ambassador to the UN, dies

Russia's long-time ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died in New York on Monday, following a career that spanned four decades and saw Russia emerge from the Soviet Union and experience many turbulent events in its relations with the West.

French police raid National Front over European Parliament payments

France's far-right National Front Monday said that investigators had searched its offices in relation to allegations that it misused European Parliament funds.

Unhappy Presidents' Day: Trump still manoeuvring after Sweden comment

Donald Trump used his first Presidents' Day in office to continue trying to talk his way out of comments implying a terrorist attack in Sweden that never happened.

Croatia supports Kosovo's territorial integrity - Grabar-Kitarovic

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Monday expressed the support to Kosovo's territorial integrity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations during her talks with the visiting Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj.

Petrov rules out early parliamentary election

Parliament Speaker and Bridge party leader Bozo Petrov on Monday dismissed speculation about a reshuffle of the parliamentary majority, saying an early election was likelier, but that right now he did not see "such a scenario."