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Croatian war crimes suspect elected to parliament freed from jail

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Posted: January 11, 2008 2:36 p.m.
Updated: January 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    ZAGREB, Croatia — A Croatian war crimes suspect was freed from jail Friday and his trial was suspended because he had regained immunity from prosecution when the parliament — to which he was re-elected — convened.
    Branimir Glavas had been in detention since 2006 and was on trial for allegedly forming a paramilitary unit during the 1991 Serbo-Croat war and ordering the torture and killings of at least two Serb civilians.
    The previous parliament, where Glavas was an independent lawmaker, lifted his immunity so he could face trial. Despite prosecution, he was re-elected in Nov. 25 general elections. The new parliament convened for the first time Friday.
    The Zagreb district court’s council granted his request to be set free on Friday, ruling that with the formation of the new parliament he automatically regained immunity status. His trial was also suspended, the council said.
    The prosecution swiftly asked parliament to again strip his immunity, and the chamber is expected to discuss the issue in the coming days.
    Glavas was released from a prison hospital in the afternoon and was being transferred to a clinic in his hometown of Osijek.
    He ended up in the prison hospital a few days ago because a hunger strike he began 65 days ago to protest the charges reportedly endangered his life. His attorney, Veljko Miljevic, said Glavas wanted to attend parliament’s afternoon session, but doctors ordered that he remained hospitalized.
    Since he was expelled from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union three years ago, Glavas has led a small party from eastern Croatia. Even though imprisoned and on trial, he was allowed to run in November’s elections on the grounds that suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.
    On Saturday, they are expected to approve the new Cabinet of Prime Minister-designate Ivo Sanader, who is seeking to use a second term in office to make further reforms necessary for the former Yugoslav republic to become a member of the European Union and NATO.

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