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.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Border Police Equipped with 17 New Vehicles with Thermal Vision Cameras

ZAGREB, November 26, 2019 - Croatia's border police on Tuesday received 17 vehicles with thermal imaging cameras for border surveillance and this highly sophisticated equipment can cover distances of up to five kilometres.

During a ceremony in Zagreb to receive the equipment, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said that the equipment was produced by the Croatian company Ericsson Nikola Tesla and a few other local companies.

This innovative Croatian solution has already been commended by the European Commission, the minister said adding that he hopes that some other countries will express interest in purchasing this equipment.

These self-sufficient systems are placed on vehicle trailers and can stay in the field for six months because they can receive different electrical charging sources, including solar panels and batteries as well as other models of electricity generation.

The minister said that this 47-million-kuna project, which is co-funded by the European Union, will make tthe police more efficient in protecting the border.

Border police director Zoran Ničeno said that the border police directorate and the manufacturers of this equipment had cooperated in designing the border surveillance equipment.

Another nine vehicles with these systems will soon be delivered to the police so that it can cover the external border at all dominant points, said Ničeno.

In the first ten months of 2019, Croatian law enforcement forces caught 800 migrant traffickers, he said.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Are Police Officers Going to Strike Next?

ZAGREB, November 20, 2019 - The Police Officers Union (SPS) on Tuesday supported a strike by education unions and announced a protest rally and a strike to fight for a better financial and social status of police.

The SPS said in a press release it was showing solidarity with teachers in their fight for a better financial and social status which, it added, they deserve.

Police officers are in a similar situation as they are underpaid and at the bottom of the social ladder, the only difference being that education workers have unanimous and agile representative unions which negotiate with arguments and can't be bought or cheated, the SPS said.

Police have representative unions of state administration employees "who only nod and sign what they are offered."

The SPS accused the Interior Ministry top brass of discriminating against non-representative unions for years and agreeing "certain things under the table at the expense of police officers," with the three representative unions.

The SPS will poll police about participating in protests and a strike. Depending on the results, the union will launch actions which will "intensify when Croatia chairs the Council of the European Union" in the first half of 2020.

Independent Croatian Trade Unions (NHS) president Krešimir Sever also supported the protesting school unions.

However, the Croatian Police Union (SPH) on Tuesday dismissed the claim that "representative trade unions should join the ill-advised police strike organised by a smaller union," saying that non-representative unions could not call a legal strike.

"The wage base and the wage amount for police officers are regulated by the collective agreement, and the Labour Act clearly provides that only representative unions are entitled to call a strike to amend the law. The SPH reserves its right to industrial action and recalls that it has organised strikes and protests whenever that was necessary. We will decide on this on our own in accordance with our internal organisation and the trust placed in us by our membership, the largest among state services," the SPH said on its website.

It said that it would continue to use its negotiating power in negotiations with the employer.

"As far as the current government is concerned, we have been negotiating basically since the start of its term. We have managed to reinstate some of the rights that were lost during the terms of previous governments. We continue to work on improving the financial status of police officers, while the issue of equipment and work conditions has already been greatly improved. We will not give up our main goal of increasing the starting salary for police officers to the present index of 1.00, and in that fight, we will use all legitimate means. We will decide on the timing and method ourselves," the union said.

More strike news can be found in the Business section.

Monday, 18 November 2019

Police Continues Investigation of Migrant Shooting

ZAGREB, November 18, 2019 - An on-site investigation on Tuhobić mountain, where a police officer shot a migrant who is in a critical condition, has been completed and "items of interest for further investigation have been recovered," Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Police said on Monday.

They added in a press release that they could not say more for the time being given the confidentiality of the investigation and a pending report by experts of the Police Directorate.

In coordination with the county prosecutor's office, the police are continuing the investigation to establish all the relevant facts concerning the shooting of the illegal migrant and the light injuries sustained by a police officer, the press release said.

The police recalled that a group of 17 foreign citizens, including the shot migrant, illegally entered Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since none have said they intend to apply for international protection, the process of their readmission to BiH has been started.

The Rijeka University Hospital said the gravely wounded migrant was on a respirator and that his condition remained critical.

He sustained serious gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen during a police operation on Saturday in inaccessible terrain on Tuhobić mountain in the Gorski Kotar region.

Citing unofficial sources, the media have reported that the wounded migrant was carried to a car several kilometres away by the officer who should shot him and another officer. The officer allegedly wanted to shoot in the air so that other officers could come to his assistance however he tripped and fell, shooting the migrant.

The Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) said on Monday it was unacceptable that police shot a migrant in the Gorski Kotar mountainous region, while the police union said the migrant was wounded when a gun accidentally went off and that his life was saved because the officer in question acted in line with the highest principles.

According to media reports, the man underwent urgent surgery due to a gunshot wound in the chest and abdomen area and Rijeka University Hospital doctors are fighting for his life. The use of firearms against refugees and migrants is becoming the rule, and the Interior Ministry and Minister Davor Božinović are doing their best to justify such conduct instead of preventing it, the CMS said in a press release.

The unofficial police information, although the investigation's findings have not been disclosed, is unconvincing and even more worrying are Božinović's statements justifying the use of firearms by police towards migrants, this nongovernmental organisation said, adding that this was not the first time that shots were fired at groups of migrants and refugees.

The SPH police union applauded the activity of all police officers protecting the state border in a difficult time when, it said, the number of people trying to illegally enter Croatia is on the rise.

Conscientious and professional police activity is necessary to maintain the state's integrity and citizens' security as well as to meet all the commitments Croatia undertook by joining the EU and other international agreements and associations, SPH president Dubravko Jagić said in a press release.

As for the shooting of the migrant in Gorski Kotar, he said all public and official information so far indicated that he was shot when the gun of one of the police officers who came across a group of illegal migrants accidentally went off.

Unfortunately, the wounds were grave and the person is still in serious condition, but his life was saved only because the officer whose gun accidentally went off acted in line with all the highest principles of the police profession and humanity, carrying the migrant, together with a colleague, over three kilometres of inaccessible terrain to a place which an ambulance could reach, Jagić said.

The dedicated work of the police to save the life of a migrant is a deeply humane act, the union concluded.

More news about migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Senior Police Officials Removed from Duty

ZAGREB, October 29, 2019 - Interior Minister Davor Davor Božinović said on Monday evening that offences such as those committed by senior police officials Josip Ćelić and Darko Car could not be tolerated and that the consequences were clear.

"Since the very first day when we assumed responsibility for this system, we said that we would always stand behind police officers and the job they performed in line with the law... These offences cannot be tolerated and the consequences are clear," Božinović said at a news conference he held after it was reported that a deputy police director and two more police officials resigned after traffic offence scandals.

Deputy Police Director Josip Ćelić, who recently made headlines after it was reported that he drove at 166 km/h on a road where the speed limit was 50 km/h, tendered his resignation as soon as an expert police team was sent to the Zadar County Police Department in whose area this traffic offence was committed seven months ago.

The Interior Ministry said on Monday afternoon that apart from Ćelić, Darko Car, the head of the Krapina-Zagorje County Police Department, resigned due to a similar traffic offence which he committed in the area within the jurisdiction of the Zadar County Police Department. Apart from these two officials, the head of the Zadar traffic police, Anton Dražina, also stepped down after an inspection team was sent to Zadar at the proposal of chief police director Nikola Milina.

Commenting on the latest developments and inspection findings, Minister Božinović said that "this is the way we run the system. I have said on several occasions that the Interior Ministry is a system that consistently and swiftly responds to irregularities in its ranks."

"They (those officials) tendered their resignations and that's what we expected of them to do," said Božinović.

More news about the Interior Ministry can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Release of 7 Young Men Accused of Rape Outrages Croatia

ZAGREB, October 14, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Monday expressed outrage at the case of several young men who gang-raped, harassed and blackmailed a 15-year-old girl in Zadar and called on relevant institutions and agencies as well as the general public to persist in the fight against all forms of violence.

"We must not shut our eyes to violence in our society, as this additionally insults the victims of violent acts," the president said on Twitter.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović also said that he didn't feel well when he read a news article about a decision of a Zadar Court investigating judge to release seven young men from custody who were charged with multiple rape. He, however, underscored that the police had promptly done its job and filed a report against the suspects.

The minister, however, declined to comment in detail on the case explaining that he was not fully informed about it and that he did not want to comment on the performance of other institutions.

The Social Democratic Party's (SDP) women's forum on Monday morning strongly deplored the recent decision of the court's investigating judge to release the seven suspects from detention pending trial. The court issued a restraining order whereby the suspects are forbidden from contacting the victim in the village where all of them live.

According to media reports, the seven young men – two of whom are 19-years-old, three are aged 18 and two are aged 17 – are charged with multiple rape of the victim and inflicting bodily injuries to her in the period from August 2018 to July 2019. The accused also made video recordings of some of the rapes with their mobile phones and blackmailed the victim with threats of posting recorded footage. One of the suspects is her ex-boyfriend who beat her on several occasions.

More judiciary news can be found in the Politics 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.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Ukraine Police Visit Croatia's Police Academy

ZAGREB, October 2, 2019 - A delegation of the Ukraine Police Patrol Academy in Kiev is conducting a visit this week to Croatia's Police Academy where they will exchange experience on police training, specialist courses and higher education.

The Ministry of the Interior (MUP) underscored that the topic of the first working meeting was cooperation in the area of education, specialist courses and training, with special emphasis on international cooperation as well as cooperation in scientific research.

"As representatives of a young academy founded in January 2018, the guests had a lot of questions considering that their duty is to provide training for police, and they were particularly interested in all details related to basic training and the daily routine of students at the Academy," MUP underscored.

The ministry added that it would inform its guests of the organisation, scope of activities and curriculum of the Police Academy as well as the process of student selection and recruiting.

The ministry will inform the visiting delegation of the possibilities of e-learning as well as of new working processes related to support for sport.

The Ukrainian guests will also be acquainted with specific training for border police.

The Ukrainian delegation has also visited the MUP's police dog training centre, the ministry said.

More news about relations between Croatia and Ukraine can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

MP: Police Exposed to Pressure from Radical Groups

ZAGREB, September 17, 2019 - Independent MP Bojan Glavašević on Tuesday said that the police are exposed to pressure by radical, ultra-conservative groups and that in the case of the arrest of Index reporter Gordan Duhaček, the charge was filed for offending an official person and citizens' moral feelings in a selective manner.

"This sort of pressure on the police has resulted due to the permissiveness of the President, the Prime Minister and Interior Minister. As we have seen in numerous cases, the police are nowhere near as expeditious in domestic violence cases, or threats to public persons or hate speech. Politicians are obliged to protect institutions from attacks and the office-holders I mentioned above simply have not done so," Glavašević believes.

According to Glavašević, yesterday's incident clearly shows that reports of deteriorating freedom of the media and of free expression over the past few years have not been imagined but are a reality.

"The question of these liberties is not an ideological issue. It is not a matter of 'yours' and 'ours'. It is an issue of democracy, therefore something that requires political consensus of all political factions dedicated to a healthy, free society," he underscored and added that yesterday's incident disclosed serious flaws in the conduct of the police and courts.

The judge's conduct toward Duhaček is particularly concerning, Glavašević said and he called out the president of the Supreme Court and State Judicial Council to take responsibility and examine the conduct of the magistrate Krešimir Ožanić.

More news about human rights violations in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Božinović: Croatia's Security Impacts Tourists' Choice of Holiday Destination

ZAGREB, September 17, 2019 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Monday closed the headquarters for the implementation of security measures during the 2019 tourism season that was opened in Zadar at the start of the summer, saying that this year the number of tourist arrivals was up five percent compared to last year and that foreign tourists chose Croatia as their destination because of the country's security.

Božinović presented the results of the "Safe 2019 Tourism Season" project.

During the tourist season in Croatia, there are four to five tourists to one Croatian, and despite this increase, the police and other services managed to do a good job, Božinović said.

"The fact that when something occurs it makes it into the media and I do not have anything against that, that needs to be talked about, however that does not indicate a negative trend. The trend is positive, in the end we can see that the number of arrivals once again increased by 5%, which means that foreign tourists choose Croatia, and Croatia's security is certainly one of the elements that influences their decision when choosing a destination," said Božinović.

Foreign police come to Croatia during the season to help local police offices and this year there were 256 of them as part of the security project.

Zadar County Prefect Božidar Longin believes that safety is Zadar's brand.

The security headquarters during the tourist season was first established in June 2018 in an effort to coordinate the work of police departments in an effort to better implement security measures during the season.

More tourism news can be found in the Travel section.

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