čedo prodanović.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

A lawyer for former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader says that he is not worried about the latest reports that the acquittal of the CEO of the Hungarian MOL oil group, Zsolt Hernadi, for giving a bribe to Sanader has not become final in Hungary.

"He will be acquitted here. We are not worried," lawyer Cedo Prodanovic said in response to questions from the press in Zagreb on Monday.

Coming out of Zagreb County Court following a hearing in a corruption case against him, Sanader said that there had been no bribe and that this was a fabrication as part of his politically-motivated persecution. "As you could see, two verdicts have already been quashed. Today I completed my defence in a third case and I hope that both the media and the court will realise that all this is a fabrication and part of the political persecution initiated by political factors."

In 2013 Hernadi was charged with giving Sanader EUR 10 million in bribes in exchange for obtaining management rights in Croatia's INA oil and gas company, but has remained out of reach of the Croatian judiciary.

The Jutarnji List daily has quoted a Hungarian independent investigative news website as saying that the Court of Appeal in Budapest has dropped charges against Hernadi for bribe giving. Contrary to interpretations by Hernadi's legal team, according to which Hernadi can avoid prosecution by Croatian judicial authorities, this leaves open the possibility for the Croatian judiciary to re-issue a European warrant for his arrest so that he can be put on trial without any procedural restrictions.

Hernadi's Croatian lawyer Laura Valkovic said that she could not comment on the Hungarian case, but noted that the situation "is not quite as portrayed by the media."

A Zagreb County Court panel of judges decided in December 2015 to join the Sanader and Hernadi trials. Hernadi's trial in absentia should have begun in February 2015, but was delayed after his defence team complained that the entire documentation in this case had not been translated into Hungarian.

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