Horvatinčić: Croatian Millionaire Kills 4 People in 3 Incidents, Serves No Time

By 14 October 2017

On Friday 13th October 2017, Croatian businessman and millionaire – Tomo Horvatinčić was acquitted of all charges relating to the 2011 maritime accident where he killed two people. This is not the first such case, he has killed two people in two separate incidents in the past and has served no time for any of it. Which, begs the question – how many people can a millionaire kill and get away with in Croatia?

Friday 13th, an ominous date around the world and yesterday that rings very true here in Croatia.  Tomislav Horvatinčić, a Croatian businessman and millionaire has just been acquitted from all charges of killing an Italian couple when he crashed into them with his motor yacht at 26 knots (approximately 50 km/h).

When I heard about the facts of the case, I was disgusted. Horvatinčić ploughed through their boat at a ludicrous speed of 26 knots, breaking it in half and killing the Italian couple. In his initial statement, he claimed mechanical malfunctions of his boat and was sentenced to 20 months in jail and 3 years’ probation. An appeal was filed and the decision was annulled in November 2016 with new proceedings beginning in February 2017.

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Desroyed boat of Italian couple

I am well aware that nothing is cut and dry when it comes to legal proceedings, we have all heard the term ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ before. Facts are one thing but to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt is an arduous task.

Horvatinčić changed his original statement from mechanical malfunctions' to 'syncope' – which is a sudden and temporary loss of consciousness and muscle strength. This puts the onus of proof on the prosecutor and in fact, makes it difficult to disprove.

Judge Maja Šupe, ruled “not guilty” on the grounds of syncope, relieving him of all criminal responsibility.

“The trial chamber failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Tomo Horvatinčić committed a criminal offense.”

If this was a stand-alone incident, I could maybe understand this as medical experts testified that syncope was a very real possibility due to the defendant's health though of course, it is an occurrence that cannot be proved…

However, this is Horvatinčić's fourth such incident; in three separate traffic accidents, he has killed two people and seriously injured others, all of which he has managed to escape without conviction. To break it down:

1980: 'Hit and run', he killed an 80-year-old woman and fled the scene because he is “afraid of blood”. Which doesn’t explain why he didn’t phone for help… Note: anywhere else in the world, a ‘hit and run’ causing death is punishable by 3 – 10 years or in some instances like Taiwan – life or the death penalty. He got off on parole and kept his driver’s license.

1989: Another traffic accident killing one victim, no conviction.

2009: Crashed into a family of four, thankfully no one was killed, only light injuries suffered. No conviction.

2011: Killed two people in a maritime accident.

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Credit:; how many people can a millionaire kill?

Just me or does this not indicate a history of negligence and should speak volumes about his character? In criminal proceedings in the UK, “bad character” is relevant and means “evidence of or a disposition towards misconduct” (section 99 Criminal Justice Act 2003). This is especially relevant if a person has been charged and even acquitted in the past of a similar offense.

Now, there is no way I am going to pretend to be an expert here, particularly in regards to criminal proceedings in Croatia but it shouldn’t take much to realise that something is very wrong here. Not to mention Horvatinčić has:

  • Fled the scene of an accident before
  • Changed his original statement in these proceedings from mechanical malfunctions to syncope.
  • Conflicting testimony: Immediately after the crash Horvatinčić phoned friends and said he lost control of the boat
  • Lied: Federico Salpietro (son of the deceased) released an official statement before the ruling to say that Horvatinčić lied outright about offering compensation. Which should go towards attesting that his word means nothing.

I actually feel sick and Croatia should be ashamed. How many people can a millionaire get away with killing before facing any charges? Apparently, four is not the answer. Ruling in favour of a weak argument like syncope sets an extremely dangerous precedent, anyone who faces similar charges can claim syncope to avoid charges. A slippery slope indeed.

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Credit: Screenshot

International media should be all over this, it says EVERYTHING about the state of Croatia. When I voiced this to friends and colleagues here in Croatia, for the most part, I was told: “it’s nothing new”, “happens all the time here”, “for your sake you should get used to it, it will make life in Croatia easier…”

I am not criticising these people, I am sure they were saying that for my own sake – if I get upset about every bit of injustice and corruption here in Croatia, I am setting myself up for a lifetime of disappointment and heartache. Honestly though, these pearls of advice didn’t do anything towards alleviating my outrage and disbelief, it only fuelled my anger and simultaneously made me feel a deep sense of sadness.

My heart goes out to the Salpietro family, I cannot even begin to imagine what they have gone through over the last six years since this has happened. After an original sentence of 20 months in jail and 3 years’ probation (still extremely weak considering two lives have been lost) to come to the end of a 6-year nightmare with nothing is heart-breaking. Horvatinčić will walk free with no conviction and most likely no compensation to the Salpietro family. In fact, he is already shopping for a new yacht to ‘recharge his batteries', while the families of four victims have to face every day without their loved ones here.

I know this article will probably achieve nothing and will fall on deaf ears in a country desensitised to such injustice. With everything going on in the world, this is just another example of the imbalance of justice when it comes to those in a position of power or with money, right?

I don’t care. As I said to my colleagues, we are in a position where we have a platform to voice things that really matter. This matters. This should never, not matter. Regardless of how big or small, I never want to feel indifferent to injustice and wrongdoing. I am no pessimist, you will always find me praising or searching with all my might for the good in life but this is wrong on all levels and I have no intention of brushing it off because ‘it is nothing new.’ Four lives have been lost, where is the justice?

Stand up Croatia. Pay attention world. This is not ok.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing..."

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