President arrested in Bosnia corruption crackdown

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnian police on Friday arrested one of the country’s presidents along with 18 other people as part of a corruption investigation in one of the country’s two main sections, a spokesman for the prosecution said.

The nation of Bosnia-Herzegovina consists of the Serb-run Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation. Both are highly independent, and each has its own president, government and parliament.

Zivko Budimir, a president of the Bosniak-Croat Federation, the president of the region’s commission of pardons Hidajet Halilovic, and at least 17 other officials were arrested on Friday.

A spokesman for the Bosnian prosecutor’s office, Boris Grubesic, confirmed the arrests. He said members of the group were suspected of “abuse of office, illegal intermediation, receiving and giving bribes, organized crime and drug trafficking.”

He made clear that not all members of the group were suspected of all of the crimes.

Police had earlier searched Budimir’s presidential office and several other government buildings.

Bosnia is one of the world’s most over-governed countries and has four more presidents — one for the Serb-run region and a three-person presidency linking the country’s two parts.

It is considered one of the most corruption-prone countries in Europe, partly due to the complex administrative framework but also because of the deep ethnic and political divisions remaining since the country’s 1992-95 war.

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