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Croatian minister arrested for abuse of power


Agency Report

One of Croatia’s key ministers was arrested on Saturday as part of a corruption probe, his lawyer said, in a serious blow to the conservative government.

Prosecutors brought construction minister Darko Horvat in for questioning after a morning raid of his home, the lawyer told state-run television HRT.

No further details were immediately released, but local media reported Horvat is suspected of handing out illegal subsidies while acting as economy minister in 2018.

The investigation might have even larger political consequences, since it also targets deputy prime minister Boris Milosevic and several former and current officials, according to Hina news agency.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic called on state prosecutors to explain the “dramatic urgency” of arresting a sitting minister and remarked that the timing of the move was “not neutral”.

“This move seems disproportionate to me, considering the case in question,” Plenkovic told a televised press conference.

While Plenkovic suggested the minister might be removed if he remained in detention, he underlined that parliamentary majority is stable and rejected the idea of a snap election.

Horvat, 51, faced strong criticism from the opposition and the media over a slow recovery from two earthquakes in 2020 and 2021.

The ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party has been accused of systemic corruption.

In November, a former minister was arrested under suspicion of fraud related to allocation of European Union funds.

The fight against corruption was key to Croatia’s successful bid to join the EU in 2013.