The founder of the Agrokor food and retail conglomerate, Ivica Todoric, won a 40-day stay at a high court in London on the final decision whether he would be extradited to Croatia, setting the date for a new hearing in October.
Todoric appeared before a high court in London on Thursday in a last-ditch attempt to avoid being handed over to Croatia to face allegations of fraud at the indebted Agrokor group, which was taken over by state administrators in April 2017.
He was accompanied to court by his lawyer Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and a prominent British barrister and lecturer. Todoric’s newly hired defence attorneys asked the court for a new hearing to be set, saying they need to prepare new evidence.
The court granted their appeal, and set a new hearing for October 15.
“I’d like to once again thank the English court for adopting a just decision,” Todoric told reporters after the hearing, saying that him and his laywers now had more time to prepare and “fight for the truth”.
“I thank everyone for the victory. This is not my victory. This is the victory of all those fighting against corruption in Croatia and I congratulate them too, because together we are going ahead to uncover what’s not right in Croatia and the region,” Todoric said.
Todoric is expected to continue insisting that the fraud investigation against him in Croatia is in fact a case of political persecution, which was already dismissed in April by a lower instance London court.
Following the beginning of Agrokor’s crisis in early 2017, Croatia’s anti-corruption police Uskok began investigating the company’s books. As a result, Todoric, his two sons, and 12 other Agrokor executives and auditors are suspected of fraud, illegally syphoning around 1.14 billion kuna (€154 million) from the company.
Meanwhile, Todoric had fled to London, where he was arrested in November 2017 on a European arrest warrant issued by Croatia. He was then released on bail, but vowed he would use every legal means available in the United Kingdom to avoid extradition to Croatia.