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Croatia amends disputed EU arrest warrant law

A total of 83 lawmakers in the 151-seat assembly backed the new law that is to take effect on January 2014

AFP , Friday 4 Oct 2013
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Croatian lawmakers on Friday adopted an amended law to comply with the European Union's extradition and arrest rules, an issue that had seen the bloc's newest member face possible sanctions barely after joining.

The parliament backed the new law on the use of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), annulling a previous limitation that it would only apply to crimes committed after August 2002 -- the date the EAW was introduced.

A total of 83 lawmakers in the 151-seat assembly backed the new law that is to take effect on January 1, next year.

Croatia originally changed the law on the EAW, which regulates extradition between EU member states, just three days before joining the bloc on July 1. The move left the country sharply at odds with its 27 partners, notably Germany.

Brussels had threatened sanctions against Zagreb over the row, including the suspension of 80 million euros ($109 million) of funding, unless it changed the date clause.

The main opposition conservative HDZ party had accused Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic's centre-left government of initially wanting to limit the law's timeframe to prevent the extradition of a former intelligence official to Germany.

Josip Perkovic, a former Yugoslav secret service agent and ex-head of Croatia's intelligence services after its independence in 1991, is sought for involvement in the 1983 murder of a Croatian dissident in Germany.

Local media have speculated that Zagreb is reluctant to extradite him as he may hold confidential and compromising information on influential people within Croatian politics and society.

The government vehemently denied any links between the case and the law controversy, claiming its intention was to protect veterans of the 1990s independence war from being investigated by the EU.

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