By Boris Pavelic
Former Croatian PM Ivo Sanader, who is undergoing two trials for corruption, in his first interview since his arrest in December 2010, has accused the prosecutor of “persecution”.
Sanader gave the interview to journalist Aleksandar Stankovic, who runs a weekly interview based show “Sunday at two“ on the Croatian public television, HTV.
“There is no fight against corruption in Croatia, only a fight against Ivo Sanader,“ the former PM claimed, insisting he is innocent.
Sanader accused the Croatian chief prosecutor, Mladen Bajic, of “persecution“, distorting the evidences and pressuring witnesses.
Asked why would Bajic persecute him, Sanader answered that he does not know.
“Maybe because he used to visit my home, and gave me two paintings. He is jealous of my paintings collection“, said Sanader.
When asked why he had left politics, he said that he never wanted to make agreement with Slovenia over the border in the Piran, which his successor, Jadranka Kosor, did.
Sanader’s interview caused controversy in Croatia.
Some analysts claimed that HTV has made a mistake by offering him the opportunity to talk, while others assessed that it as in the public interest to interview former PM, despite his ongoing trial.
“This interview was not in public interests nor does it contribute to improvement of the political culture, “ said political analyst Davor Gjenero.
Former Croatian president Stjepan Mesic also criticised HTV for inviting Sanader.
„The only public interest in Sanader’s case is fair and just sentence, whatever it might be,“ Mesic said.
But Vesna Alaburic, a media lawyer, thinks that “there is a need for public debate about the trials “.
“Sanader has the right to speak in public just as any other citizen, since the court did not ban him from doing so,“ Alaburic added.
Sanader is undergoing two trials right now at the County Court in Zagreb, while a third is to start in the coming months.
In one trial, Sanader is charged with illegally taking 15 million kuna [2 million euro] of public enterprise money, drawn out by the former ruling party, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ , via Fimi media, a PR firm. In this case, the HDZ itself is among the indicted.
The second trial unified two indictments against Sanader.
The first is for allegedly taking half a million euro in bribes from the Hypo bank of Austria in 1995 for helping the bank to enter the Croatian market. Sanader was deputy foreign minister at the time.
The second indictment unified in the second trial is for allegedly receiving 10 million euro in bribes from the Hungarian oil company, MOL, for giving it rights over the Croatian oil company, Ina.
The fourth indictment charges Sanader with having allegedly forced the state electricity firm, HEP, to supply cheaper electricity to Dioki, the chemical firm owned by Sanader’s friend, Robert Jezic. The trial in that case is to start in coming months.