Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Father Who Threw 4 Children Off Balcony Gets 30 Years

ZAGREB, March 18, 2020 - The Zadar County Court on Wednesday sentenced Josip Rođak to 30 years' imprisonment and mandatory psychiatric treatment for the attempted murders of his four children on the island of Pag in 2019.

Rođak, 54, was given eight years for each attempted murder for a combined sentence of 30 years.

Around 6 a.m. on 28 February 2019, in a house he was renting with his wife, he took the four sleeping children out of bed and threw them one by one off a balcony, 5 m from the ground, with the intention to kill them.

Two girls and one boy were seriously injured, while another girl sustained light injuries.

More Zadar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Indictment Against Škaro "On Hold" Pending Decision on Evidence Admissibility

ZAGREB, February 11, 2020 - The indictment panel of the county court in Velika Gorica did not decide on Tuesday on the merits of the charge against Damir Škaro, a former member of Parliament from the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and former president of the Siget Automobile Club, who had been charged with rape and sexual harassment of an employee.

Court spokesperson Ante Željko told Hina that the indictment panel's session had been postponed following a request by the defence that all records of the examination of the victim and the witnesses should be declared inadmissible.

"The court has rejected the motion, but the defence has the right to appeal," Željko said, adding that the session of the indictment panel, which can uphold the indictment, dismiss it or return it to the prosecution for improvement, would continue after a higher court's decision on the admissibility of the evidence.

At the end of November 2019, the Velika Gorica county prosecutor's office charged Škaro with sexual harassment and rape of a female employee at the Siget Automobile Club between June and August 9 last year.

Škaro, who did not appear before the court in Velika Gorica on Tuesday, was released from detention on October 24, 2019 pending completion of the trial. He had been in detention since September due to the risk that he could tamper with witnesses or repeat the offence.

The criminal complaint was filed by a doctor after the victim told her that Škaro had sexually assaulted her on the premises of the Siget Automobile Club early in August.

Following the allegations, the HDZ Zagreb branch launched a disciplinary procedure against its former memebr of parliament, Olympic bronze medallist in boxing and former president of the Automobile Club Siget.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Crackdown on Drug Dealers Announced

ZAGREB, January 19, 2020 - Prime Minister and HDZ party leader Andrej Plenković said in Split on Saturday that the competent agencies would step up the fight against drug dealers and people involved in organised crime, and in a comment on coming intraparty elections, he said that he expected fair conduct from all candidates.

"We will step up activities that concern legal security. We will change laws if necessary, step up the fight against those who are involved in drug dealing and organised crime and who turn young people into delinquents," Plenković said at an event marking the 30th anniversary of the HDZ branch in Split.

Plenković said this in the context of last week's murder of three drug dealers by a 25-year-old man in Split.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Cocaine Smugglers Should Be Tried in Croatia

ZAGREB, December 9, 2019 - Under an agreement with representatives of institutions of all the countries that participated in Operation Familia and Eurojust, criminal proceedings against people who smuggled 600 kilograms of cocaine from South America to Europe and the Middle East should be conducted mostly in Croatia, the Croatian anti-corruption agency USKOK said on Monday.

Croatia is in the best position to prosecute the organised criminal group whose members, including a Croatian national, were arrested in July while transporting 600 kilograms of cocaine, it was decided at a meeting at Eurojust, which was attended, along with USKOK officials, by Czech, Italian, French and Swiss prosecutors.

During this international operation, Montenegrin national Michael Dokovich, Czech national Ales Skolnik and Croatian national Silvio Beljević were arrested in Basel on July 13 and were extradited to Croatia in November. The three men are charged, together with five other persons, with conspiracy to smuggle drugs, abuse of authority, document forgery and illegal possession of weapons.

Dokovich is charged with forming a criminal group which smuggled large quantities of cocaine aboard jet planes from South America to Europe and the Middle East. Dokovich was born in Podgorica as Iljmija Frključić. He has used numerous pseudonyms since and was under investigation by US security services several times.

US media have reported about Dokovich several times, saying that he was one of the first people in the USA who committed computer fraud, and he was also brought into connection with a group responsible for arson, insurance and bank fraud, theft of postal parcels, drug smuggling and robberies of jeweller's stores.

After the transfer of the three accused from Switzerland, Croatia now has in its custody five accused in the case. The search is still underway for two more persons from Serbia and a national of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Serbia has launched the procedure to transfer prosecutorial activities in the case to Croatia. Criminal proceedings are also under way in the Czech Republic against the Czech national, the remaining member of the criminal group, who was arrested in that country.

Operation Familia was carried out by Croatian authorities in cooperation with the relevant institutions of the Czech Republic, Serbia, Switzerland and France. Slovenia, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as Italy contributed to the investigation.

The implementation of this complex operation has resulted in the confiscation of one million euro in cash as well as luxury items worth several hundred thousand euro, found in Dokovich's car and house in Zagreb's Šestine neighbourhood. Owing to the results of the operation, an additional 421 kilograms of cocaine were found and confiscated in Hong Kong.

More crime news can be found in the News section.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Police Arresting People Suspected of Falsifying Croatian IDs for Mobsters

ZAGREB, November 27, 2019 - The police on Wednesday began arresting members of two criminal organisations who, according to unofficial sources, had been involved in collecting data and making false documents for criminal clans in Serbia and Montenegro.

The police have not released any official details as yet. A spokeswoman at the Interior Ministry (MUP), Marina Mandić, confirmed to Hina that police raids began on Wednesday morning and that some of the arrested were police employees.

The raids were conducted throughout Croatia but were focused on Zagreb and Karlovac.

According to unofficial sources, those arrested are suspected of collecting data and making documents like ID cards, travel documents and driver licences for criminals from Serbia and Montenegro.

About thirty people were arrested in the early hours of Wednesday and now their homes, workplaces and vehicles are being searched.

The USKOK anti-corruption office is expected to release an official statement since the case concerns organised crime rings.

Media reports note that documents were made for criminals who belong to the Zemun clan in Serbia and the Škaljarci and Kavčani clans in Montenegro.

The Jutranji List daily notes that these groups are connected to several mafia-style assassinations on several continents.

The daily adds that the suspected police employees collected from the information system data on Croatian citizens that were then used to create false Croatian documents.

More crime news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

More Stringent Legislation to Prevent Domestic Violence

ZAGREB, October 24, 2019 - The Croatian government on Thursday sent into parliamentary procedure several amendments to the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Act and the Protection from Domestic Violence Act which would impose more stringent penalisation with the aim of preventing and countering violence, particularly family violence.

"The important aim of this set of draft amendments is also to make criminal procedure swifter," Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković said at the government's meeting.

Amendments of the Penal Code thus envisage that assaults against social workers or teachers would be treated as an assault against official persons.

The changes also introduce stricter penalties for domestic violence and violence against women. Also, in the future the qualification of sexual intercourse without consent would be treated as rape, which will be punishable with one to ten years' imprisonment.

The minimum sentence for domestic violence will be raised from the current three months of imprisonment to a year in prison.

Also, changes of the criminal procedure legislation will make the procedure swifter and in accordance with the EU acquis.

The proposed changes also envisage the abolishing of criminal libel.

So far there have been few cases of treating some acts as criminal libel and the minister said that this offence in the future can be treated through a civil action. If defamation is proven in a civil action, the plaintiff can seek protection and damages, according to the minister's explanation.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković welcomed the annulment of criminal libel as "a signal for the further respect of media freedoms in the country."

Amending the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Act and the Protection from Domestic Violence Act will introduce stricter penalties and is in accordance with our policy of preventing and countering family violence, he said.

Addressing his cabinet's meeting, the premier said that the amending of the above-mentioned laws was conducted in cooperation with legal experts and associations engaged in the protection of women and children against violence.

"I thank everyone from the nongovernmental sector for their help in making the legislative proposal more precise and better," the premier said.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Computer Fraud on Steady Rise in Croatia, Police Say

ZAGREB, October 23, 2019 - Computer fraud has been on a steady rise in Croatia, the Police Directorate told a press conference on Wednesday on the occasion of European Cyber Security Month.

"In the first nine months of this year we recorded a rise in computer fraud of 10 percent compared to the same period last year. Most of the reported cases related to so-called CEO fraud where a person impersonating the CEO of the targeted company sends an email to the accounts department to transfer a sum of money to another account. There are also increasing reports of so-called Nigerian prince scams where naive citizens are asked to pay hefty sums," said Renato Grgurić, chief of cyber security at the Police Directorate.

Given that perpetrators of such crimes are from African countries, police have difficulty tracking them down because of a poor exchange of information with police services in those countries, while information exchanges with EU countries via Europol are more than good, he said.

Citizens were advised to be extra cautious when sharing personal data on social media and to make online payments using only secure websites. "Any suspected attempt of fraud should be immediately reported to the police," Grgurić said.

Svan Hlača of the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) underlined the importance of raising public awareness of cyber security, with emphasis on network and information security.

He said that this year the National CERT would focus on maintaining the high level of security for internet users and using modern information and communications technologies given that the number of non-technical incidents relating to fraud, unsolicited emails and harassment was on a steady rise.

More IT news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Violence Against the Elderly an Increasing Problem in Croatia

ZAGREB, October 6, 2019 - Violence against elderly people is an increasing problem in Croatia as more cases of neglect and physical, mental and economic abuse of senior citizens are reported.

People above the age of 65 are frequently attacked by unknown persons, as well as by their family members, primarily for property-related reasons. A total of 6,316 crimes against property targeting persons aged 60 and over were recorded last year, a conference in the southern coastal city of Split was told recently.

People above the age of 60 were most often the targets of aggravated theft (3,294), theft (2,277), fraud (447), property damage (141), robbery (68) and computer fraud (419). Also reported were 239 crimes against life and limb, including 99 cases of grievous bodily harm and 14 cases of murder, 733 crimes against personal freedom, including 710 cases of threat, and 108 crimes against marriage, family and children.

High Misdemeanours Court judge Branka Žigante Živković drew attention to specific types of economic violence against the elderly which are not listed in the law, including agreements on life-long support. She said that such agreements often trigger violence against senior citizens by their family, citing a case where an elderly person was subjected to extreme forms of violence by their family so the person in their care would die as soon as possible and the family would get the land and other property bequeathed to them under the agreement.

Petar Škrmeta of the Social Welfare Centre in Split said that society quickly responds in cases of violence against children, but there is still not enough public awareness of violence against the elderly.

Škrmeta said that the number of cases of violence against the elderly in Split was increasing by ten percent from year to year. "We need to raise awareness of domestic violence and neglect of elderly persons; we need to sensitise the public. This should be discussed and dealt with through team work and cooperation," he stressed.

The head of the Crime Prevention Division at the Split-Dalmatia County Police Department, Paško Ugrina, said that the matter required a systematic approach and stressed the need for cooperation between the police and other institutions.

More news about crime in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Statistical Data Don’t Support Rising Violence Claims

ZAGREB, September 9, 2019 - Statistical data by the Interior Ministry, the Human Rights Ombudswoman and the Serb National Council (SNV) do not support the argument that ethnic violence in Croatia is on the rise, Vecernji List daily said on Monday.

Last year, the police registered 33 hate crimes, the State Prosecutor's Office (DORH) prosecuted 53 and eight convictions were handed down. In 2013, under the Zoran Milanović cabinet, the Interior Ministry registered 35 cases and DORH prosecuted 57, while in 2016, under the Tihomir Orešković cabinet, the Interior Ministry registered 35 cases and DORH prosecuted 37.

Taking population size into account, it is evident that Croatia is ranked among those countries with fewer hate crimes, the daily said. It could also possible thought that there is a higher number of crimes reported in some Western countries and fewer in others, including Croatia, as a consequence of the trust, or lack thereof, in the authorities or the ability, or failure, to identify hate crimes.

But in DORH's annual report, the higher number of dismissed reports is seen as a result of the fact that frequently unacceptable, impassioned and uncivil public statements are interpreted as hate speech, resulting in criminal complaints although they are "just" a case of slander or insult, misdemeanour, sometimes even non-punishable behaviour.

The human rights ombudswoman's data on discrimination complaints on racial or ethnic grounds do not support the argument that violence is on the rise either. There were 66 such complaints last year, up from 47 in 2017, but down from 117 in 2016. Sixty such complaints were filed in 2012 and 68 in 2015.

SNV data on incidents involving intolerance towards Serbs show that 82 were reported in 2014, 189 in 2015, 331 in 2016, 393 in 2017 and 381 in 2018 but, Vecernji List said, the SNV noted that it had changed its methodology.

Interior Ministry data on crimes prosecuted ex officio show they decreased by 32% between 2011 and 2018, with an increase recorded only in 2015.

More Politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Former HDZ MP Remanded in Custody Following Rape Allegations

ZAGREB, September 6, 2019 - Damir Škaro, a former HDZ member of Parliament, Olympic bronze medallist and current president of Automobile Club Siget, has been remanded in 30-day investigative detention following allegations of rape and sexual harassment by an Automobile Club employee, a Velika Gorica County Court investigating judge ruled on Thursday.

The detention order was issued because he might try to interfere with witnesses and repeat the crime, court spokesman Ante Zeljko told Hina.

According to unofficial sources, Škaro might try to interfere with four witnesses - three women who complained to a legal officer at the Croatian Automobile Club about sexual harassment and a man through whom Škaro offered the victim money so that she would not report him.

Škaro was arrested on Wednesday morning at a border crossing while entering Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was reported by a doctor whom the victim told she had been raped early in August. The victim later reported Škaro for threat as well.

More crime news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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