Austria to deport Croatian ex-PM Ivo Sanader

Croatian former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader - file pic
Image caption Mr Sanader has been in detention in Salzburg since his arrest last December

A court in Austria has decided to extradite the former Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, to Croatia to face corruption charges.

His lawyers swiftly lodged an appeal against extradition, so he will remain in custody in the town of Salzburg until a decision is taken on that.

Mr Sanader was arrested in Austria in December, a day after Croatia had lifted his immunity from prosecution.

He is suspected of abuse of power and embezzlement. He denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Sanader, 57, says the charges are politically motivated. He was in power in 2004-09.

There are suspicions that Mr Sanader diverted state budget money into a secret slush fund for his conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

Croatia's handling of this case will be under close scrutiny in the European Union, which is nearing the end of complex negotiations on Croatia's accession.

EU officials have voiced confidence that the negotiations can be wrapped up this year. That would make Croatia the 28th EU member state.

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