Court cuts Croatia ex-PM's jail sentence for corruption

Zagreb (AFP) - Croatia's supreme court has upheld the conviction of former prime minister Ivo Sanader for corruption but has cut his jail sentence, a judicial spokesman said Friday.

"We have received the supreme court's ruling upholding Sanader's sentence, but reducing it from 10 to eight and a half years in prison," Kresimir Devcic, spokesman for the lower court that had tried the ex-premier.

Sanader, 61, was sentenced in 2012 after being found guilty of taking bribes from Hungarian energy group MOL and a troubled Austrian bank.

The high court's ruling is expected to boost Croatia's case against MOL chief executive Zsolt Hernadi, who will be tried in a Zagreb court in absentia over the bribery.

Sanader was found guilty of having taken a five-million-euro ($6.7 million) bribe from MOL in order to secure control for the Hungarian energy group of Croatia's state-run oil and gas firm INA.

In a separate trial earlier this year, Sanader was convicted of embezzling millions of euros in public funds while in power and sentenced to nine years in jail in that case. Sanader's lawyer said he would appeal that sentence too.

Sanader led two conservative governments from 2003 to 2009, when Croatia made key steps toward joining NATO in 2009 and the European Union in 2013.

He has also been indicted in a few more corruption cases.