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EU lauds Croatia change to controversial EU extradition law

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(BRUSSELS) - The EU's Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding on Monday welcomed Croatia's amendment last week of a controversial extradition and arrest law that had caused a sharp row with the bloc's newest member.

"The Croatian issue is one which (I believe) is done with because the Croatian parliament voted the law which the Croatian government had promised," Reding said as she joined talks with European Union justice ministers.

Croatian lawmakers on Friday adopted an amendment on the use of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to end a previous limitation that it would only apply to crimes committed after August 2002 -- the date the EAW was introduced.

Croatia had changed the appliable date of the EAW, which regulates extradition between EU member states, just three days before joining the bloc on July 1.

The move left the country sharply at odds with its 27 EU partners and facing the threat of sanctions from Brussels, including the suspension of 80 million euros ($109 million) of funding, unless it changed the date clause.

Reding said however that "as this law is implemented in real terms we can stop the (sanctions) procedure."

The main opposition conservative HDZ party had accused Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic's centre-left government of initially wanting to limit the law's timeframe to prevent the extradition of a former intelligence official to Germany.

Josip Perkovic, a former Yugoslav secret service agent and ex-head of Croatia's intelligence services after its independence in 1991, is sought for involvement in the 1983 murder of a Croatian dissident in Germany.

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