BUDAPEST, June 29 — A Hungarian court found Croatia’s deputy prime minister, Radimir Cacic, guilty today of causing a fatal car crash and gave him a suspended 22-month prison sentence, a ruling likely to avert a possible political crisis in the Croatian government.
Cacic (picture), who is also economy minister and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic’s closest ally in the centre-left cabinet, has said he will step down if he receives an unconditional prison sentence.
The court in the southwestern town of Kaposvar said Cacic was guilty of killing two people in a car crash in 2010, but a source close to the court told Reuters the plaintiff was likely to appeal the ruling.
If the ruling is upheld, Cacic will go to prison only if he repeats a similar offence in the next three years.
“This is a ‘Solomon’ ruling, which we kind of expected. It removes the burden from the government, but there remain doubts about his moral and ethical responsibility,” political analyst Zeljko Trkanjec said.
Many analysts and diplomats have said that Cacic should not have entered the government with the crash aftermath hanging over him.
“For all his worth, energy, ability and good plans, it is just unthinkable that a man with such a burden should be in the government,” a Western official based in Zagreb, who closely cooperates with the government, said.
Cacic was driving on Hungary’s main motorway when he hit a Hungarian car in front of him. The impact injured two passengers, who later died in hospital, while the driver survived.
Cacic acknowledged his guilt but said he was briefly disoriented by a sudden cloud of fog on the road. He also said the other car was driving too slowly and the passengers had not fastened their seat belts. — Reuters