Croatian Former Premier, Ruling Party on Trial on Graft Charges

A Croatian county court said it will begin a corruption trial today involving the Croatian Democratic Union, which lost elections in December to an opposition bloc, and former premier Ivo Sanader.

The party, which ruled for 17 of the 21 years since Croatia’s independence in 1990, Sanader and three other party officials were charged by the Public Prosecutor for allegedly siphoning money from state companies, the court in Zagreb said in a statement on its website.

The party is accused of illegally gaining 31.6 million-kuna ($5.5 million), while Sanader illegally gained 15 million kuna, prosecutors have alleged. Both Sanader and party officials have denied the accusations.

The Croatian Democratic Union lost a Dec. 4 election to a group led by the Social Democrats amid several corruption scandals involving top party officials. Sanader was premier from 2003 to July 2009, when he left without explanation. He was arrested in Austria in 2010 on an international warrant and extradited to Croatia in July 2011.

This is the third indictment for Sanader, who is also on trial for alleged corruption in cases involving Hungary’s Mol Nyrt. (MOL) and Austria’s Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International AG.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jasmina Kuzmanovic in Zagreb at jkuzmanovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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