A Croatian court on Tuesday convicted former prime minister Ivo Sanader [JURIST news archive] of corruption and sentenced him to nine years in prison. The court also convicted [BBC report] the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) [party website, in Croatian] for siphoning funds from state-run companies. Sanader has been ordered to return [AP report] nearly USD $2.8 million, and the HDZ has been ordered to return over USD $5 million. HDZ President Tomislav Karamarko claims that the charges were politically motivated and plans to appeal [press release, in Croatian]. This marks the first time a Croatian political party has been convicted of corruption.
This is the second corruption conviction for Sanader who was sentenced [JURIST report] in 2012 to 10 years in prison. In September 2011 Croatian prosecutors announced that they had charged Sanader [JURIST report] with embezzlement relating to a real estate deal that took place during his time in office. Sanader was accused of using government funds to purchase a building in the capital city of Zagreb at an inflated price and stealing the surplus.