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Croatia lawmaker charged with war crimes

[JURIST] A Croatian county court in Osijek issued indictments Monday for seven persons, including a former parliamentarian, on charges of war crimes committed against Serbs, including abduction, torture and murder, during Croatia's war of independence from the former Yugoslavia. Prosecutors charged opposition lawmaker and former member of the ruling party Branimir Glavas [official profile, in Croatian; Trial Watch profile] with ordering the killing of 10 Serb civilians in the eastern city of Osijek during the 1991 Serbo-Croat war. Glavas is the first state official to be charged such crimes; if convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. The other six persons charged were members of a paramilitary unit allegedly formed by Glavas in Osijek [backgrounder] in 1991. Glavas has maintained his innocence and even staged a 40-day hunger strike last year when he was detained [JURIST report] when the investigation initially opened. He also faces another war crimes investigation in Zagreb for the murder of two Serbs in a separate incident in Osijek.

Glavas was one of the founding members of the ruling conservative HDZ party [party website; Wikipedia backgrounder], but was ousted in 2005 by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader [SE Times profile]. The Croatian Parliament [official website, English version] granted a request in May 2006 to lift parliamentary immunity for Glavas in order to move forward with criminal proceedings. Reuters has more. Hina has local coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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