Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

After only two days of man-hunt, Ivo Sanader was arrested in Austria

Dessislava Dimitrova, December 12, 2010

Only two days of suggestions and speculation, the question "Where did former PM Ivo Sanader escape in the day when his political immunity was removed?" already has an answer. The wanted internationally former MP was arrested on Friday afternoon in Austria and according to Croatian media he spent the night in an arrest in Salzburg, where he was expected to be handed over to Croatian authorities.

According to an official announcement of the Ministry of the Interior of Croatia, Sanader was arrested at 15.50 local time in the area of Salzburg, but no further details are mentioned. Only in two days the authorities of Croatia have managed to remove Sanader's immunity, to organise an international man-hunt and to arrest him in order to charge him with various abuses.

A message to a former fellow party-man and a close friend of Sanader's forced Croatian media on Friday to wait for him at the border with Slovenia, from where a day earlier he left the country. It appears however, that he had never had an intention to return but instead - to fly to the US via Munich. But because he was wanted by the Interpol, Germany refused to let him in, some local media claimed. For Nova TV the US ambassador in Zagreb James B. Foley declined to confirm whether Sanader was really refused a visa.

The regional newspaper Slobodna Dalmatia (Free Dalmatia) (the town of Split, a home town of Sanader, is a regional centre of Dalmatia) is the only newspaper in the country that published an interview with Sanader during his escape. In the time of the interview Sanader was in Ljubljana on a business trip, as he claims, without specifying where exactly he was going. He responds briefly, sometimes the questions are followed by long pauses and in the beginning his reaction was pure and clear laughter, the newspaper writes.

But is it going to be that funny for him, local media commented, after he is returned to the country in order to be prosecuted. "I have no intention to defend myself by keeping silence, truth will be my defence. I am neither a thief, nor a criminal", Sanader says in the interview with the Slobodna Dalmatia and adds that even Remetinec (the investigation service in Zagreb) cannot break him.

If there is a sentence the ruling party in Zagreb, the same that nominated Sanader for PM, will have managed to convince the EU that it is truely fighting corruption and organised crime and that the country belongs to the EU.

What exactly are the scales of the abuses that Sanader is charged of? According to the local economic daily, "the balance after Sanader is 20.8 bn kuna (2.97 bn euro)", including 6 big scandals in which Sanader's name is involved.

Here are only few of them that became popular during his government: the revealed 80 secret accounts of HDZ (the then and now ruling party) in Austrian banks in which there are over 500 mn dollars; Sanader's personal collection of luxury watches worth more than 200 mn dollars; his secret trip to the Italian city of Verona where it is believed that the selling of the largest Croatian pharmaceutical company Pliva was agreed to the American Bar; benefiting of some companies on the back of taxpayers ... The list is not short but the specific charges are yet to come.

Western Balkans
Bakir Izetbegovic, Andrej Plenkovic | © Council of the EUBakir Izetbegovic, Andrej Plenkovic | © Council of the EU
In Sofia, EU Closed the Door to Enlargement but Left Money and Instructions
Aleksandar Vucic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan | © Serbian PresidencyAleksandar Vucic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan | © Serbian Presidency
Serbia between the Past and the Present in Its Draft National Security Strategy
Jean-Claude Juncker, Zoran Zaev | © European CommissionJean-Claude Juncker, Zoran Zaev | © European Commission
Juncker's Tour of the Western Balkans - Breaking the Ice