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Zagreb Mayor Acquitted On Fraud Charge, Faces Second Corruption Trial

Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandic in 2016

Zagreb's longtime mayor has been acquitted on charges he defrauded the Croatian capital out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Prosecutors said they would appeal the October 19 ruling in favor of Milan Bandic and two former aides, who were also acquitted.

Bandic, who is considered one of Croatia's most influential politicians, had been accused of allowing a church-affiliated group to set up public stands to collect campaign signatures without paying required fees, thus costing the city 41,500 euros ($47,700).

But Judge Zdravko Majerovic ruled Bandic had “acted in line within his authority as a mayor."

"Everything was completely transparent," Majerovic said as he delivered the verdict.

Bandic, who has been mayor of Zagreb almost continuously since 2000, is also on trial for separate corruption allegations.

He and 10 others, including his closest aides, are accused of actions costing the city and state budgets some 3.3 million euros ($3.8 million).

In that case, the charges include abuse of office, influence peddling, and tax evasion.

Bandic and the other defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Bandic was out of power briefly in 2002 after he was forced to resign in an alleged drunk-driving case in which he fled from police.

With reporting by AFP and Total Croatia News