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Croatia arrests ex-spy chief wanted in Germany

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia arrested on Wednesday a former intelligence chief wanted in Germany, responding to an extradition row that overshadowed the Balkan state's accession to the European Union last summer. Josip Perkovic was one of 10 people arrested, state news agency Hina reported, as an amended law took effect that brought the country's extradition laws into line with most of the rest of the bloc.

Croatia sells stake in insurer

The government of Croatia decided on Wednesday to sell a part of its stake in the country's biggest insurer Croatia Osiguranje (CO) to local tobacco group Adris, officials said. Adris offered 119 million euros ($163 million) for the 39.6 percent stake, or 970.45 euros per share, beating a rival bid of 800 euros per share by Polish state insurer PZU. Adris, one of the largest tobacco companies in the Balkans and which is also involved in tourism, has pledged to invest an additional 110 million in the company.

Croatia defender Simunic fined for pro-Nazi chant

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatian public prosecutors have fined soccer international Josip Simunic 25,000 kuna ($4,400) for pro-Nazi chants he shouted at a stadium in Zagreb, following the World Cup playoff victory over Iceland. At the end of Tuesday's 2-0 win, Australia-born Simunic took the microphone at Maksimir Stadium, turned to the stands and shouted "Za dom" (for the Homeland), to which the audience replied "Spremni" (Ready).

Croatia's Vukovar commemoration turns anti-government

Croatian war veterans on Monday prevented top officials including Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic from joining a march to commemorate the anniversary of the 1991 fall of Vukovar at the start of the Yugoslav wars. The observance was held amid growing tensions between Croatians and minority Serbs in the eastern city sparked by the introduction of bilingual signs on public buildings -- written in the Cyrillic alphabet for Serbs alongside the names in the Latin alphabet for Croats.

Croatia launches tender for motorways concession

Croatia launched a tender to lease operating its motorways for up to 50 years in order to repay loans for their construction and reduce public debt, the ministry said on Tuesday. The government expects to rise 22.51 billion kunas (2.9 billion euros, $4.0 billion) from the concession for toll roads. Since proclaiming independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Croatia, the newest European Union member state, has gradually developed its motorway infrastructure, notably towards its Adriatic coast, to boost tourism.

Hungary rejects arrest warrant from Croatia for oil boss

A Hungarian court rejected Monday a European arrest warrant issued by Croatia for the head of Hungary's energy group MOL, in a case that landed a former Croatian prime minister in jail. "The Budapest Metropolitan Court has decided to reject the arrest warrant and the handing over" of Zsolt Hernadi, Budapest chief prosecutor Tibor Ibolya said in a statement. Ibolya said the ruling was in line with European law on double jeopardy as last year Hungarian prosecutors dropped a probe into the case due to lack of evidence "of criminal wrongdoing".

Croatian climber's remains back home after 39 years

The remains of a Croatian climber found in the Caucasus more than 39 years after an avalanche killed him were brought home for burial, a rescue service said on Monday. Nenad Culic was killed along with three other Croatian climbers on July 24, 1974, in an ice avalanche while they were climbing Georgia's Ushba mountain. The bodies of his two colleagues were found a few days after the accident and the remains of the third one in mid-2012.

Croatian doctors, nurses strike over benefits cuts

Thousands of hospital workers went on strike in Croatia on Wednesday in protest at cuts to benefits introduced in response to the economic crisis. Trade unions said some 46,000 nurses and doctors, representing around 70 percent of the sector's workforce, were expected to walk off the job although doctors in primary care and emergency services continued to work. The strikers were demanding the restoration of previous benefits scrapped earlier this year, notably regarding pay for overtime and for when they are on call.

Croatia police seize illegal Serbian weapons

Weapons including rocket launcher parts being smuggled in containers were seized by Croatian customs officials on Friday amid claims the arms came from Serbia. The defence ministry confirmed to AFP the discovery of the illegal arms in the northern Adriatic port of Rijeka and said in a statement that "competent military experts were called to establish the kind of military equipment" found there. It did not elaborate but just said the case was under the jurisdiction of Rijeka prosecutors, customs and police.

Anti-Serbian language protests highlight Croatia tensions

The destruction of public signs in the Serbs' Cyrillic alphabet and street protests in Croatia's war-scarred Vukovar have thrown a stark light on persisting tensions between Croatians and the country's Serb minority. This fresh row comes almost 20 years after the 1990s conflict. The signs were put up this week on official buildings in the ethnically mixed eastern town, in line with a law aimed at improving minority rights in the country which became the newest EU member on July 1.
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