1 year house arrest for Serb folk music star

A Serbian court has approved a controversial plea bargain that will allow the Balkans' most popular folk singer to avoid a heavy prison sentence for massive embezzlement.

Belgrade's High Court ruled Monday that Svetlana Raznatovic known as Ceca will spend one year under house arrest in exchange for a euro1.5-million ($2.2-million) fine.

Raznatovic pleaded guilty on charges that she embezzled about euro4 million in the sale of 10 football players to foreign clubs from a Belgrade team she managed in the early 2000s.

She faced up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Liberal groups have criticized the plea bargain as scandalous, saying the ruling raised questions about the judiciary's credibility and suggested the star who is close to Serbia's politicians is above the law.