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Tact needed after Ivo Sanader’s conviction

November 22nd, 2012

Commenting on the bribery case involving former Croatian PM Ivo Sanader and Hungary’s oil multinational MOL, the leading left wing daily warns that wisdom is needed on both sides to prevent the two countries’ relations from deteriorating.

Former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was sentenced at the first instance by a Croatian court to ten years in jail for, among other offences, helping MOL take over the management rights of the Croatian energy company INA for 10 million euros. Both Sanader and MOL deny the charges. MOL’s spokesman Domokos Szollár pointed out that INA was saved from bankruptcy by MOL as a significant shareholder, so they had no motive to bribe Sanader. Szollár also said the case against Sanader was built on evidence provided by one witness while two other witnesses and one of the accused refuted this evidence. Earlier, the Hungarian prosecution dropped a case submitted to them by their Croatian colleagues, judging that there was no reason to suspect any criminal behaviour on the part of MOL’s Ceo Zsolt Hernádi. (See BudaPost, June through December, 2011)

In a front page editorial, Népszabadság says both the Croatian Court and the Hungarian prosecutor could not be right. One of them took the wrong decision, and both Croatian and Hungarian authorities had an eye on “national interests”. It would be going too far to call the conviction of Sanader “a political sentence” but the governing Socialist Party in Croatia clearly wants INA back. To resolve the issue and end the “economic cold war” between Croatia and Hungary, at least one of the parties has to “make a sacrifice”. However, the editorial concludes, such a peace would require a miracle – of the kind Mol’s acquisition of INA seemed at the time.

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