Austrian court approves Sanader's extradition to Croatia
The Salzburg Provincial Court on Monday approved the extradition of former Croatian Prime minister Ivo Sanader to Croatia, the Austrian electronic media reported.
Court President Hans Rathgeb confirmed this decision, the Austrian news agency APA reported.
Lawyer Werner Suppan, who represents Sanader in Austria, announced an appeal, claiming that Sanader would not have a fair trial in Croatia.
The appeal will be submitted to the High Provincial Court in Linz, which will then render its decision. Until then, Sanader is to remain in custody in Salzburg.
Sanader has been in custody in Salzburg since December 10. The Croatian judiciary suspects him of abuse of office. He is charged with having syphoned some 80 million kuna from public companies and ministries via the private Fimi Media company. He is also charged with receiving kickbacks amounting to HRK 3.5 million for the approval of a loan which Hypo bank gave to the Croatian government while he was Deputy Foreign Minister.
The Croatian anti-corruption agency USKOK is also investigating his role in the illegal business deals between the Croatian power company HEP and the Dioki company.
According to the Austrian media, Sanader is also being investigated, together with the owner of the Dioki company, Robert Jezic, over suspicions that they tried to ensure an unlawful gain of EUR 10 million for Jezic's company, specialised in petrochemicals and plastics production, at the expense of the state-run JANAF oil pipeline operator.
Apart from that, Austria has launched an investigation into Sanader on suspicion of money laundering. The investigation is ongoing, spokesman for the Austrian special prosecutor's office for fighting corruption Martin Urlich confirmed on Monday.