The Zagreb County Court on Wednesday upheld a war profiteering indictment against Djuro Gavrilovic, despite the claims of his defence attorneys that the statute of limitations has run out in this case.

The panel of judges, presided by Judge Jasna Smiljanic, refuted claims of the defence lawyers who cited the Constitutional Court's decision in the Hypo case in which the highest judicial body, while deciding on the first final verdict against former prime minister Ivo Sanader, ruled that statute of limitations was an obstacle to continue the proceedings.

After today's hearing, Gavrilovic's lawyer Rajko Coguric  Corugic said the defence did not receive an extensive elaboration of the judicial decision. Corugic said that during the trial the defence team "will have the opportunity to remove the stigma off Mr. Gavrilovic."

The anti-corruption office USKOK in July issued an indictment against businessman Djuro Gavrilovic, charging him with purchasing several meat-processing companies that were part of the Gavrilovic concern during the 1990s war in Croatia with money intended for the country's defence in the amount of two million German marks.

USKOK claims that the indictee was aided in the transaction by the then Finance Minister Jozo Martinovic.

USKOK suspects Gavrilovic, an Austrian citizen, of inciting abuse of office and authority. However, because the alleged abuse occurred from 11 November 1991 to the end of October 1992, he is charged in line with the Law on Exemption from Statute of Limitations for War Profiteering and Crimes Committed in the Process of Ownership Transformation and Privatisation.

The indictment notes that Gavrilovic exploited the situation of war and limited functioning of state bodies in the purchase of weapons and equipment needed for the country's defence in order to obtain significant material gain for himself.

USKOK alleges that he did so by buying a number of bankrupt companies whose value at the time was estimated at close to 68 million German marks. 

Gavrilovic undertook to pay slightly more than 3.3 million German marks for those companies within a period of 90 days even though, USKOK alleges, he did not have the money.

Gavrilovic claimed that he was exposed to a lynching campaign and that the purchase of the Gavrilovic meat industry had been conducted in line with the law.

He also claimed that the investigation had been launched because of international arbitration proceedings in which the Gavrilovic meat company was seeking damages from Croatia and to influence the final ruling in the case.

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