Image: Material seized at university
AFP-Getty Images
A police officer carries out material seized at Zagreb University on Thursday.
updated 9/18/2008 12:11:52 PM ET 2008-09-18T16:11:52

Police raided several Zagreb universities on Thursday and questioned dozens of professors suspected of taking bribes to give students passing exam grades, the chief Croatian prosecutor said.

Mladen Bajic told reporters authorities had collected evidence against 21 professors, three assistants and four university clerks.

More than 60 others — mostly students and those suspected of acting as middlemen — were still being investigated, he said.

Corruption remains widespread in Croatia and is one of the key stumbling blocks to Croatia's accession to the European Union.

Bajic did not identify the universities or the professors. But reporters saw police raiding economics and traffic engineering colleges in Zagreb, searching offices and bringing professors in for questioning.

Thousands of students were gathering in front of the colleges as most lectures and exams were postponed. The administration and several professors' offices at the economics faculty of Zagreb University were sealed.

$560 for a passing grade?
The head of the national police force, Marijan Benko, said police plan to question at least 95 people during the investigation, which has already taken a year. Hundreds of police officers were also searching professors' apartments and cars, he said.

Benko said professors were suspected of taking $560-$2,800 to give students a passing grade; and up to $12,600 for illegally enrolling someone at a college. Most colleges are free of charge in Croatia, but places are limited and potential students are selected through preliminary exams.

Prosecutor Bajic said authorities eavesdropped on professors while they were collecting evidence.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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