Croatia issues arrest warrant for ex-PM

2010-12-10 15:07

Zagreb - Croatia has issued an international arrest warrant for a former prime minister under investigation for graft who has left the country, the interior ministry said on Friday.

Ivo Sanader is wanted by the national Bureau for the Fight against Organised Crime and Corruption (USKOK) for "associating to commit a criminal act and abuse of power", the warrant published on the interior ministry's website said.

Sanader, aged 57, crossed into neighbouring Slovenia on Thursday, just hours before parliament stripped him of immunity at the prosecutors' request paving the way for his detention.

It was not immediately clear where he was headed, but a lawyer who late on Thursday said he represented him said Sanader had merely left on a previously scheduled business trip and would return "within the next three to four days".

A Zagreb court judge had ordered a one-month detention for Sanader.

Sanader, Croatia's first prime minister to be probed for corruption, led the government and the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) from 2003 until he quit in a surprise announcement in 2009.

Closely monitored by Brussels, Zagreb has stepped up efforts in recent months to root out corruption. Croatia aspires to become the EU's 28th member by 2012.