A Bosnian court has ordered that the president of the country's autonomous Muslim-Croat federation and four other officials be detained for a month. Prosecutors said they took bribes to arrange pardons for convicts.
The court in Bosnia handed out the month-long detentions on Sunday. A spokeswoman said the court had considered that both Federation President Zivko Budimir and his co-accused aide Petar Barisic might try to flee the country. Both men hold Croatian passports.
The spokeswoman added that three other officials were being held because the court was concerned they could obstruct the investigation and influence accomplices and witnesses.
Budimir was arrested on Friday along with 19 others. Police said ten government officials were among those arrested. Several of the others were suspected drug traffickers with alleged links to officials.
Prosecutor's spokesman Boris Grubesic said the men arrested were suspected of "abuse of power, organised crime, drug trafficking and accepting bribes." Police searched Budimir's offices in the capital Sarajevo and the southern town of 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.
The accused men's lawyers said they would appeal against Sunday's ruling.
Budimir's Party of Justice and Trust condemned what it called "meddling in politics by the state prosecution." It described his arrest as a "a show of strength put on for the sake of the public."
As part of the US-brokered, Dayton Agreement signed in Ohio in December 1995 to end the Bosnia War, Bosnia was split into two autonomous regions joined by a relatively weak central government - the federation and the Serb Republic - each of which enjoys a high degree of autonomy.
Budimir was named president of the Muslim-Croat federation in March 2011 after general elections in Bosnia. His party was removed from the ruling coalition in June 2012 and replaced with other Bosnian Croat political groupings but Budimir has refused to step down.
jm/ch (Reuters, AFP)