Former prime minister and former HDZ party leader Ivo Sanader said on Tuesday he was not bitter about the fact that he spent years in investigative custody but only dissatisfied that something like that could happen in Croatia.
"I want to thank my family who supported me the whole time, especially friends who were willing four years ago, just as this time, to put up their properties for bail. Thank God it wasn't necessary," he told reporters upon being released from Remetinec prison in Zagreb.
Sanader recalled that he was the prime minister whose government took Croatia into the European Union and NATO and that he was convinced that Croatia had achieved the highest standards, but that until his case there had been no accused who had four or five proceedings "at the same court for a similar crime at the same time."
He said those cases should have been joined. "Had they been joined... I wouldn't have been in prison the whole time, but free," he said, adding that his attorneys told him that there was no person in Croatia being tried separately in two cases with similar charges, instead of the cases being joined.
"It wasn't done in my case. It's not clear why," Sanader said, adding that a string of laws and constitutional and convention rights had been breached in his case. "I'm absolutely satisfied that, nonetheless, in Croatia we have instances which can hand down a ruling and say that we were right."
Sanader said he would not comment on politics and the recent parliamentary election because it was a "done deal" for him. "I have several proceedings now and I will fully concentrate on those proceedings and I'm confident that I will win them."
Sanader said he stood by what he said when he resigned, first from the government and then the HDZ.
"I said at that time that the party is not going in a good direction. We lost the first round of the presidential election, our candidate didn't make it in the second round and I said that if we continued like that, we would lose the 2011 election too. Which is what happened. I announced that I would intensify my activity in the party as its honorary president. They convened the presidency after that and ousted me from the party. The party's vice president (Jadranka Kosor) called (chief state attorney Mladen) Bajic and ordered him to prosecute me. He had to obey because his term in office expired on February 11. He was reappointed chief state attorney."
Responding to a question from the press, Sanader said a number of European politicians visited him in prison.