Bosnia: Ex-party chief gets 3 years in prison for corruption

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A court in Bosnia sentenced a former top ruling party official Friday to three years in prison for corruption, according to a Bosnian media outlet.

Amir Zukic, former secretary-general of the ruling Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, or SDA, was convicted of using party connections and bribes in 2016 to secure people jobs in state-run institutions, the Klix news portal reported.

The Sarajevo Municipal Court sentenced four others to prison terms of up to six years, and acquitted two people in the case. The trial was part of Western-backed efforts to curb graft in the Balkan nation, which is struggling to recover economically from a devastating 1990s ethnic war.

The verdicts can be appealed.

The U.S. State Department in 2020 barred Zukic from entering the United States for his alleged involvement in “significant corruption.” Another official blacklisted by the U.S this year, former lawmaker Asim Sarajlic, was acquitted in the trial that ended Friday, Klix said.

The U.S. and its Western allies have imposed sanctions on individuals who are perceived as undermining the rule of law and stability in the Balkans.

More than 100,000 people died in the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, which ended in a U.S.-brokered peace agreement. The country remains unstable and ethnically divided, and the West wants to counter Russia’s efforts to increase its influence in the region.

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