Bosnian Croat leader arrested in anti-graft police raid

The top leader of one of Bosnia's two semi-autonomous entities, the Muslim-Croat federation, and 18 other people were arrested on Friday in a wide anti-corruption probe, judicial sources said.

Zivko Budimir, Bosnian Croat president of the Muslim-Croat federation which together with Serb-run Republika Srpska make up post-war Bosnia, was arrested in the action, prosecutor's spokesman Boris Grubesic said.

"Nineteen people were arrested in this operation. We can confirm the arrest of Budimir," Grubesic said.

Among the arrested were Budimir's advisor and a chairman of the regional commission of pardons, he said.

The arrested were suspected of "abuse of power, organised crime, drug trafficking and accepting bribes," Grubesic said.

Police searched Budimir's offices in the capital Sarajevo and southern town Mostar.

Budimir, one of the leading Bosnian Croat politicians, was suspected of taking bribes in exchange for pardoning a number of prisoners, state radio BHR 1 reported.

He was named president of the Muslim-Croat federation in March 2011, following general elections in Bosnia.

Although his party was kicked out from the ruling coalition in June 2012 and replaced with other Bosnian Croat political groupings, Budimir has still refused to step down.

His move has prevented formation of a new regional government.

Bosnia is one of the most corruption-prone countries in the Balkans.