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Former Croatia PM indicted for corruption

Former Croatian prime minister Ivo Sanader was indicted [press release, in Croatian] on Wednesday for corruption. The country's Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime (USKOK) [official website, in Croatian] alleges Sanader received a pay-off of more than 3.6 million kuna (nearly USD $695,000) from Austria's Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank [official website, in German] in exchange for the country entering into a loan agreement to receive 140 million Austrian Schillings (USD $14.7 million) in order to place the bank in the Croatian market. The indictment alleges that Sanader made the deal while he was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affrairs between 1994 and 1995. Sanader is charged with violating provisions of the country's criminal code [text, PDF] regarding abuse of office and official authority, fraud and corruption.

Sanader was extradited to Croatia in July in order to face these charges after he was arrested [JURIST reports] in Austria last December. Sanader had begun an appeal, arguing that it would be impossible to receive a fair trail in Croatia, but he dropped it after media speculation [JURIST report] suggested the appeal could harm Croatia's accession to the European Union (EU) [official website]. In June, the European Council [official website] agreed to grant Croatia EU membership following six years of accession negotiations. The decision calls for negotiations to close by the end of the month and the accession treaty to be signed by year's end, allowing for the country to become the 28th member of the EU on July 1, 2013. In the interim, EU leaders strongly encouraged Croatia to continue pursuing crucial reform initiatives.

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