Former Prime Minister Acquitted of Slandering Former HDZ President Karamarko

By 2 March 2018

ZAGREB, March 2, 2018 - Zagreb Municipal Court on Friday acquitted Josip Manolić of defamation charges filed by former HDZ leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko after Manolić claimed in an interview with the Nacional weekly that Karamarko was a collaborator with the Yugoslav secret service (UDBA).

Manolić was acquitted of having slandered Karamarko's reputation, as the court established that he had not intended to defame Karamarko.

Manolić's defence argued that the Nacional published claims that were founded on information he received from his colleagues during his term as Croatia's prime minister (1990 - 1991) and that he didn't have any reason to doubt the credibility of those claims.

In 2016, Karamarko, who was then at the helm of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), sued Manolić for defamation. Testifying in court, Karamarko said that Manolić's claims were "mere lies aimed at a political showdown" and passed on to the media just when he had begun advocating the implementation of lustration.

Manolić, a founder of the HDZ and one of the closest associates of Croatia's first president Franjo Tuđman at the time when Croatia fought for independence from Yugoslavia, told Nacional that, "had Tuđman wanted to carry out lustration, he would first have had to get rid of Karamarko, because Karamarko worked for UDBA in the late 1980s."

After World War II, Manolić was a senior official at the Home Affairs Secretariat of the People's Republic of Croatia and at UDBA, and he controlled all prisons for political prisoners in Yugoslavia. In 1992, as the then prime minister of Croatia, he was Karamarko's superior and Karamarko served as his chief-of-staff.