The final sentence in the Hungarian trial of Croatian First Deputy Prime Minister Radimir Cacic will be the final orientation point for his stay in the government, PM Zoran Milanovic said in Brussels on Friday before the first-instance sentence was handed down in Kaposvar.
"The final sentence in this case is the final point of orientation and today we won't have the final sentence. Mr Cacic spoke about everything else," Milanovic said, when asked if Cacic would stay in the government if convicted of a traffic accident with two fatalities in Hungary in 2010.
The Kaposvar court sentenced Cacic pending appeal to a suspended sentence of 22 months with three years' probation. He also has to pay the court costs.
Asked before the sentencing what his position was regarding Cacic in terms of political ethics in case of a guilty verdict, Milanovic said, "There are ethically charged situations and ethically neutral situations and for something to have an ethical component, there must be a deliberate element. There's no such thing here. This was an accident that was preceded, according to everything we know, by the relatively normal behaviour of the one who caused the damage, Mr Cacic, who admitted to it."
Milanovic went on to say that "this is turning into a campaign against Cacic, who does give cause for that with his rough behaviour. That doesn't mean that the attacks against him on this ground are justified. This is an attempt, to an extreme degree... to nail to the ground a man because he has a somewhat rough nature, because of stupidity. I, as a man, won't allow it."
Milanovic said there were also some political reasons for the attacks because Cacic was the president of a party. "But if there was any ethical flaw here, I would have spoken about it long ago. I repeat once again that there are deliberate situations, something under man's control, and something that isn't, and I would defend any of you like this."
Milanovic reiterated his statement of yesterday, that the Croatian judiciary respected the Hungarian judiciary more than vice versa.
He said he had met with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban a dozen times in the last six months, but that they never talked about the details of the trial or anything that would encroach upon judicial independence.