Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Christmas in custody

Dessislava Dimitrova, December 20, 2010

According to the tradition Christmas should be spent with the family, but this year former Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, will have to spend the Holidays away from his beloved ones - in custody in Salzburg. According to Barbara Feichtinger, a spokeswoman for Salzburg prosecutors, there was a chance for an accelerated extradition by the end of the year, but so far Sanader will remain in custody by December 27, when a next hearing and a new news conference is scheduled. It is possible, however, that Sanader refuses extradition, which could delay it for months and even for years.

A prolonged extradition process that Sanader was to face in the United States made him insist on fleeing to the United States before getting arrested, Croatian daily Jutarnji List reported. According to the Justice Ministry spokesperson Vesna Dovranic, quoted by the daily, the relations in this legal area between the two countries were based on a convention, signed back in 1901 between the United States and the Kingdom of Serbia and this convention does not even mention crimes such as money laundering, power abuse and even war crimes.

The extradition procedure from the United States will be hindered also by the fact that the US courts usually follow the so called probable cause, the standard by which an officer or an agent of the law has the grounds to make an arrest, to conduct a personal or property search, or to obtain a warrant for arrest, etc. when criminal charges are being considered. The prosecutors’ spokeswoman in Salzburg declined to comment on the information that Austrian police have a couple of hidden bank accounts of the Sanader's family with totally 1.2 million euro. According to two Jutarnji List independent sources, an investigation is being carried out not only in Austria, but also in other EU countries, as well as in the United States.

According to the daily, two days after Sanader was arrested, the Austrian authorities have informed their Croatian counterparts about two hidden accounts – in one of them, under Sanader's name, some 200,000 euros were deposited while in the other, opened under the name of his late father, more than one million euros were found. The first one, allegedly was opened when Sanader was the owner of two Austrian firms, one of which went bankrupt in the 1990s, but the second account brings more doubts because the Prime Minister’s father as an ordinary worker.
At the same time, according to business daily the doubts that another participant in ‘Sanader's octopus’ will also end in custody, have made government officials and those in state-run companies declining to sign major financial documents in order to avoid a possible prosecution.

On the other hand, local businessmen also avoid dealing with the state, the daily adds, quoting the chief of the country’s largest bank Bozo Prka, who urged for this on a business lunch of the Employees Association recently.

According to the daily, grumpy businessmen could be seen during the same lunch and on all similar events recently and their problems arose not only because of the financial crisis, but are also due to the fact that a majority of them work mainly with people that are currently asking themselves whether they have worked for the government led by Sanader, or for his crime gang.

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