<pre><pre>Croatia condemns former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader for speculation in the war | News from Croatia

Ivo Sanader, Former Prime Minister of Croatia, He has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for speculating about the war during the conflict of the 1990s.

The 65-year-old On Monday, he pleaded guilty to accepting nearly 500,000 euros ($ 558,500) in bribes from the Austrian bank Hypo Group Alpe Adria when he was deputy foreign minister.

The cash came in the form of a five percent commission that Sanader collected from the bank loan that was used to pay Croatian embassies abroad, said a court in the Croatian capital, Zagreb.

Sanader He will have to return to the state the amounts he received in bribes, but he will not have to go to jail, since he has already served time in a previous sentence and in a detention period.

His lawyer, Jadranka Slokovic, said he would appeal the verdict.

Sanader will not go to jail since he already served his sentence. [Antonio Bronic/Reuters]

Sanader was sentenced for the first time to 10 years in prison in 2012 for accepting bribes from the bank and for saving millions of euros to Hungary's energy giant MOL.

But the sentence was later reduced to eight and a half years before the country's high court annulled it in 2014, saying that Sanader's right to a fair trial had been violated.

A new trial was ordered and the two cases separated.

Not guilty

Sanader, who led the government as prime minister from 2003-2009 and faces other cases of corruption, pleaded not guilty when the new trial began in March.

In a separate trial on Monday, the Zagreb court acquitted him for abuse of electric power charges for the sale of electricity from the state company HEP to two local companies at prices below the market.

Sanader is the highest Croatian official accused of corruption since the country proclaimed its independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

He led Croatia to NATO and the threshold of the European Union in the 2000s.

Fighting corruption was key to Croatia's successful attempt to join the EU in 2013.