The defence of former Prime Minister and HDZ party president Ivo Sanader asked on Thursday that the management board chairman of the Hungarian oil company MOL, Zsolt Hernadi, a number of ministers and coalition partners from the time when Sanader was in power, Parliament Speaker Luka Bebic, and former government and HDZ spokesman Ratko Macek testify during his corruption trial.
The defence requested that Hernadi testify on suspicion of giving Sanader EUR 10 million in bribes to give MOL management rights in the Croatian oil company INA.
During today's hearing at the Zagreb County Court, the defence asked to be informed about Hernadi's current status, saying an investigation had been launched into him, he was not mentioned in the indictment, and no document that would clarify his role had been entered into the case file.
In order to shed light on decision-making in the government and establish if Sanader had pressured its members, the defence wants as witnesses incumbent deputy premiers Slobodan Uzelac and Bozidar Pankretic. It also wants to interrogate former minister Marina Matulovic Dropulovic and Bebic about the way in which the HDZ presidency was informed about the takeover of management rights in INA. The defence wants to put this question also to Macek who, if the court allows his testimony, will also speak about claims that he and INA supervisory board chairman Davor Stern pushed for a Russian strategic partner for INA, instead of MOL.
Sanader's counsel want to interrogate Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) president Josip Friscic about claims that Sanader's ruling coalition partners were acquainted with the contentious INA-MOL agreement.
Another witness requested by the defence is Sanader's brother Flavio, who allegedly attended a meeting in Switzerland with key witness businessman Robert Jezic who told the anti-corruption office USKOK that part of MOL's bribe to Sanader had been paid through his Swiss accounts.
The defence also wants that USKOK witnesses Jezic, former deputy PM Damir Polancec and former minister Ivan Suker be interrogated about meetings with MOL executives and links with some foreign companies.
The defence also wants to interrogate the MOL executives who took part in the INA-MOL negotiations and to see documents on INA's operations before the agreement with MOL was signed and on the profitability of INA's gas sector.
USKOK prosecutor Tamara Laptos will take a position on the defence team's motions and the final decision will be made by presiding Judge Ivan Turudic.
Apart from being charged with taking the EUR 10 million bribe from MOL, Sanader is also accused of taking a HRK 3.6 million commission in the mid-1990s, when he was a deputy foreign minister, for a loan which Austria's Hypo bank gave Croatia.