ZAGREB

 Croatia’s former powerful prime minister Ivo Sanader went on trial Wednesday on new corruption charges, several months after being jailed for 10 years for graft.

“I understand the indictment and I plead not guilty,” Sanader told a Zagreb court trying him and two other people accused of abuse of power over a 2009 property deal.

The 59-year-old, who led the government from 2003-09, is charged with pushing his cabinet to buy a building in Zagreb for the rural development ministry for twice its market value. The govt paid 3.$4.6m for the property, but 2.3 million euros were given directly to Sanader, according to the indictment. Former MP Stjepan Fiolic, who sold the building to the ministry, pleaded guilty on Wednesday after admitting during the investigation he had given the money to Sanader.

The third defendant, Mladen Mlinarevic, who headed a company that valued the building for the deal, pleaded not guilty.

Then regional development minister Petar Cobankovic was sentenced in March to one year in jail after reaching a deal with prosecutors but the sentence was later reduced to community service.

Sanader himself was sentenced in November to 10 years in jail for taking millions of euros in bribes from Hungarian energy giant MOL in 2009 and and a troubled Austrian bank in 1995, when he was foreign minister.

He is also being tried along with his opposition conservative HDZ party for embezzling some 10 million euros in slush funds pumped out of state-run companies or from illegal donations.

Croatia is set to become the European Union newest member on July 1, but Brussels continues to closely monitor Zagreb’s progress in battling graft.