Arrest warrant issued for ex-PM
Croatian police have issued an international arrest warrant for the country's former prime minister, who left the country amid suspicion of corruption just before parliament lifted his immunity from prosecution.
Police spokesman Krunoslav Borovec said the warrant for the arrest of Ivo Sanader was issued overnight last night and sent to Interpol.
Sanader, now an MP, left Croatia on Thursday morning without problems as there was no warrant for him at the time.
In Croatia an MP can be sought, detained and prosecuted only after he is stripped of immunity from prosecution. Parliament lifted Sanader's immunity on Thursday afternoon, but he was already gone by then.
It is unclear where Sanader - who abruptly quit as prime minister on July 1 2009 - is now, although he was last seen crossing by car into neighbouring Slovenia.
Croatia's Office for Suppression of Organised Crime and Corruption said Sanader was suspected of conspiring to commit crime and abuse of office.
Sanader is the highest-ranked official to be charged for a crime since the country's 1991 independence.
Several former government officials and businessmen - including Sanader's closest allies while at the post - have been jailed as Sanader's successor, Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, works to fight high-level corruption, which is a key condition for Croatia's entry into the European Union. Croatia hopes to join in 2012.
According to cables published by WikiLeaks, chief state prosecutor Mladen Bajic told the US Embassy in Zagreb in January 2009 that there were several ongoing corruption cases targeting Sanader and that at least one case could lead to his indictment.
He referred to one case in which Sanader allegedly arranged a bank loan for a neighbour in the 1990s in return for a bribe of 800,000 German marks (£343,000 at today's rates).