Bosnian security minister indicted over corruption allegations

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Selmo Cikotic, Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina and European Union's home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson are seen in a migrant camp Lipa near Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 18, 2021. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic/File Photo

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SARAJEVO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Bosnia's Security minister, Selmo Cikotic, has been charged with abuse of office and corruption over a sale of old weapons and military equipment during a previous stint as defence minister, the state prosecutor's office said in a statement on Friday.

Cikotic's actions on behalf of a Croatian company had deprived the state of 9.7 million Bosnian marka ($5.5 million) when Cikotic was serving as defence minister from 2009-2011, the statement said.

It accused him of changing the terms of a contract, without consulting other officials, so that the company received weapons and ammunition of a higher value than it had paid for. A court must still confirm the indictment.

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SCOUT, the Croatian buyer, denied it had profited from the deal but said it had in fact suffered losses because the Bosnian defence ministry never fulfilled the terms of the 2004 purchase contract, and failed to deliver agreed quantities of the weapons.

In a statement to Reuters, SCOUT said it had sued the ministry twice since 2011, and that a court ruling ordered the ministry to deliver the quantities that were lacking but that the ministry has never obeyed.

A spokesperson for Cikotic's security ministry said it had no immediate comment on the accusations. The security ministry could not immediately be reached for comment on SCOUT's statement.

Bosnia, which is divided into two ethnic regions with a weak central government, was ranked 111th out of 180 countries in the corruption index of watchdog Transparency International last year.

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Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo Editing by Peter Graff and Matthew Lewis

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