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Croatia's defense minister sacked after causing a fatal car crash that also left him hospitalized

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Croatia's defense minister was sacked on Saturday after he apparently caused a traffic collision in which one person died and he was also seriously injured.

Defense Minister Mario Banozic was overtaking a truck in bad weather when he crashed into a van coming from the opposite direction, authorities said. The van driver died in the crash and Banozic was hospitalized with serious injuries.

“I have removed Minister Banozic from duty of the defense minister, considering the extraordinary circumstances," Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said shortly after initial findings were published about the crash in eastern Croatia.

The accident happened around 6 a.m. on Saturday. Banozic, 44, was driving his personal car and was traveling on his own.

“We are expressing our condolences to the family of the person who was killed,” government spokesman Marko Milic said earlier on Saturday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The deputy prosecutor in the eastern town of Vukovar, Biljana Luburić, said Banozic's blood and urine samples were taken for testing.

According to the crash report, Banozic was overtaking another vehicle “without checking if it can be done safely and without taking into consideration the weather conditions.”

He suffered head and brain contusions, as well as multiple body trauma. He remained under observation, but his injuries are not life-threatening.

Local Index news portal said Banozic was apparently going hunting when he crashed. Photos from the scene showed Banozic's car turned on its side next to the badly damaged van on a rainy and foggy day.