Croatia’s former PM arrested in Austria

Friday, December 10, 2010

VIENNA - Croatia’s fugitive former premier Ivo Sanader was arrested Friday in Austria, a day after fleeing his country, the interior ministries in Vienna and Zagreb confirmed.

“He was arrested at around 3.45 pm (1445 GMT) in Salzburg province,” Austrian Interior Ministry spokesman Michael Girardi told DPA.

Sanader fled Croatia Thursday, hours before the parliament stripped him of his immunity from prosecution and paved the way for his arrest warrant.

Sanader is wanted for alleged corruption, police said, and faces at least five years in prison if tried and found guilty.

A spokeswoman for the regional public prosecutor said Sanader would be transferred to a prison in the town of Salzburg, and that her office would deal with the extradition request in due course.

The authorities have not yet specified what charges will be brought against the former prime minister. Sanader was in power for a term and a half, until he resigned without explanation in July 2009.

Two members of his cabinet have already been sentenced to prison for corruption, and dozens of others who were close to him - officials, businessmen and friends - are being investigated or tried.

Croatian media have speculated for months about a wide-ranging investigation into corruption and Sanader’s likely arrest. The corruption is said to involve tens of millions of dollars.

A protege of late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman, Sanader took control of the Christian Democratic Union (HDZ) after Tudjman’s death in late 1999.

His heir at the helm of the government and the HDZ, Jadranka Kosor, expelled him from the party in 2010. He has since been an independent legislator.

Filed under: Politics

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