Monday, 11 October 2021

Božinović Says Waiting for Results of Investigation Into Violence Against Migrants

ZAGREB, 11 Oct 2021 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Monday said that he did not have any new information related to videos of police violence against migrants and that it is necessary to wait for the results of the investigation.

"We'll wait and see what the results of the investigation show. Everything that will happen as part of the relevant procedures will be in line with what the police chief said on Friday," Božinović told reporters.

Protecting the borders in line with the law

Asked about responsibility in the chain of command, Božinović underscored that the orders are to protect the state borders in line with the law.

"There cannot be any order that is not in line with the law. As soon as I receive the report from the police directorate, I will forward it to the prime minister, even though we have already discussed all this," said Božinović.

He said that police officers, particularly those assigned to border control, doing one of the most difficult jobs.

He added that there were cases when the police themselves identified cases of police officers overstepping their powers or unlawful conduct.

He said that disciplinary procedures had been underway from before against eight police officers and that 22 cases had been documented and submitted to the State Attorney's Office (DORH).

"When someone individually breaches or oversteps their authority anywhere, there are services in the police directorate and internal controls to conduct investigations and decide on the penalties," he said.

Commenting on an anonymous letter by a police officer who claimed two years ago that an order existed for violent pushbacks, Božinović reiterated that anything that was reported was always investigated. DORH rejected 13 of the 22 cases for lack of evidence, he said.

The anonymous police officer's letter refers to a specific case, with a specific location and date, which previously was not the case, said Božinović and added that a prompt reaction followed the anonymous letter and that the matter was still being investigated.

Božinović also commented on a recent drug incident in the Croatian Army, underscoring that police offices were exceptionally active regarding the fight against drug smuggling.

"The cocaine market is expanding into the general population, which is concerning. We will meet with the anti-drug commission in the next few days. In 2020, 60 kilograms of cocaine were confiscated whereas in the first eight months of this year more than 667 kilograms were seized," he said.

For more on politics, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Interior Minister Davor Božinović Praises Police For Their Irreplaceable Role in Many Segments

ZAGREB, 29 Sept, 2021 - Addressing the central ceremony of Croatian Police Day, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Wednesday that the police were "engaged in all areas of national security" and that their role in many other segments was irreplaceable.

During the ceremony held in Zagreb, when the police observed their day on 29 September, the feast of their patron saint, St. Michael, Minister Božinović said that until the end of the term of the current government, all the working processes of the law enforcement authorities would be digitalised.

Police Director Nikola Milina said that police work had focused on detecting tax frauds and evasion, money laundering, and crimes affecting the state budget.

In the first eight months of 2021, the law enforcement authorities had detected 85% more corruption crimes, the number of reports concerning suspected white collar crimes increased by 20%, and the number of detected conspiracies to perpetrate crimes went up by 43%.

All that is not by chance, it is a result of well thought-out strategic planning and our commitment to conducting investigations into economic crimes and corruption, Milina said at the central ceremony.

As for organised crime, so far this year Croatian police officers have arrested 661 people smugglers.

When it comes to the protection of the Croatian and the EU border, it has been established that we have met all the technical and legal requirements which has made our border the best protected external border, he added.

Milina said that significant results had been achieved in raising cyber security, and that the police were ready to respond to all the challenges and threats stemming from the use of new technologies.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Missing Person Peruća Lake: Body Found After Four Day Search

September 22, 2021 - The missing person Peruća Lake search sadly ended with the discovery of the body of Dominik Branimir Bilobrk who went missing last Saturday.

The four-day search for the 24-year-old Dominik Branimir Bilobrk sadly ended with the worst outcome possible.

As TV network RTL reports, police confirmed that the missing young man was found dead close to the place where he left to swim through Peruća lake, an artificial lake in Dalmatia. A little over an hour away from Split by car, Peruća is the third biggest lake in the entire country.

„The boat went to pull him over and bring him to land where investigation and identifying of the victim will take place. The family is already here. They await in sorrow“, said RTL on its website on Wednesday afternoon.

As Jutarnji List reported, Dominik Branimir Bilobrk from Obrovac Sinjski (half an hour drive away from Peruća) disappeared on Saturday. At the time of his disappearance, he wore short camo cargo pants, a short-sleeved black T-shirt, and black sneakers. The description said he was of „stringer physical build, “ and he drove away from his house in a Fiat brand car.

Big search for Bilobrk started on Monday morning around Peruća lake and its surroundings. Police, along with the Croatian Mountain Rescue (HGSS), from Split's station, and HGSS divers from across Croatia joined the search to find the missing 24-year-old. Dogs, drones and boats were used to find the missing young man. Along with professionals, ordinary citizens and Bilobrk's neighbors took part in the search too. Dogs, drones, and boats were used in hopes of finding the missing young man.

Following the interview of HGSS's search leader Ante Jukić, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on Monday that both the car and the clothes dropped a kilometer away belonged to Bilobrk.

„Every eye on the field helps. The search is specific because we are on a suspected minefield, so we have to pay attention“, said Jukić on Monday, explaining how both civilians and professional troops must be careful in that area.
The finding of th clothes and cars shifted the focus of the search to the lake Peruća. Unfortunately, the search ended with a sad ending, as the exact reasons for Bilobrk's departure remain unknown.

Nestali.hr, a governmental site where Croatians can report missing people, states that in the last 23 years, there have been more than 24 000 missing people reported.
The majority of these cases, around 70%, are related to the war in the 90s.

For more news from Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 17 September 2021

20 Years of Riot Police Force in Croatia Marked

ZAGREB, 17 Sept 2021 - The riot police force is celebrating 20 years since its establishment and in addition to officials from the Ministry of the Interior and Police Directorate, the director of Germany's riot police, Andreas Backhof, attended the celebrations in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia's riot police force was established on the German model.

Inspector Backhof said that Croatia's riot police meet European standards at a very high level. He underscored that other countries seek advice from Croatia's police when establishing their own police units, which, he said, deserves great respect and recognition, the Ministry said in a press release.

"We have stood and will stand by you, with advice, action and support - all this time we have been learning from you too. We have not only maintained our partnership on an equal footing but have developed friendly relations based on mutual respect and trust," said Backhof.

Interior Ministry state-secretary Irena Petrijevčanin Vuksanović said that compared to previous years, the need to involve riot police in various daily tasks had increased and the scope of their duties had significantly expanded.

Police Director-General Nikola Milina thanked all members of the riot police unit, underscoring that along with the special police unit, riot police conduct the most difficult duties. He recalled that the riot police actively participate in a wide range of police activities, emphasising their engagement in the protection of Croatia's border - the longest external EU border.

The ministry recalled that in addition to their regular duties riot police participate in complex criminal-tactical situations such as police hunts, inspections of premises, ambushes, raids, road blockades, etc.

Riot police are also called in in cases of general danger caused by natural disasters and in all other situations where the presence of a large number of police officers trained to conduct teamwork is required, the ministry said.

For more news, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Police File Reports Against Eight Anti-Maskers in Krapinske Toplice

ZAGREB, 15 Sept, 2021 - Police in the northwestern Krapina-Zagorje County have filed misdemeanor charges against eight persons protesting outside a primary school in Krapinske Toplice against the obligation for children to wear face masks in school. 

The police have filed 26 reports and they refer to an attempt to disturb the public peace, unreported public assembly in a place where public assemblies are not allowed, refusal to wear a protective mask indoors, and refusal to show police one's ID card.

Police also reported that a child's parents were reported for offences against the Identification Card Act and the Act on the Protection of the Population against Infectious Diseases, and that the competent social welfare service had been informed accordingly.

Police said that over the past few days, several people had continued rallying outside the school in Krapinske Toplice in violation of the Public Assembly Act, which was why police presence there was required.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Brits Film Croatian Officials Asking for Nonexistent Fee Payments

September the 5th, 2021 - There's bad promotion and there's bad promotion. Unfortunately, it's difficult for it to get much worse than this for the country's nautical tourism as Croatian officials are secretly filmed by some British tourists asking for the payment of fees which don't even exist.

As Morski writes, after the recent scandal from the Slavonski Samac border crossing, where two Croatian customs officers asked for a bribe from a foreign tourist, another scandal related to bribes this time involving other Croatian officials managed to remain outside the Croatian media space - until now that is. The location is Dubrovnik, the month is July, and two British sailor bloggers used a hidden camera to film Croatian officials charging them non-existent fees.

The British informed the Croatian Ministry of Tourism, which confirmed that the officials in question had indeed deceived them.

Carefree sailing along the Croatian coast for a pair of British sailors turned into a first-class scandal, which was documented and published on their YouTube channel and on a website that brings together sailors. It all happened back in July this year when the British couple went to the authorities located in Dubrovnik to announced their departure from Croatian waters, with the aim of continuing their journey down south to nearby Montenegro.

It seems innocent enough, but when they got to speak to the Croatian officials, they fined them the equivalent of 100 pounds because they allegedly failed to pay the additional sojourn tax. The police didn't explain to them exactly what the fee in question was, but the British sailors had to pay it. And in cash.

The sailors state that after this odd incident they contacted the Croatian Ministry of Tourism regarding the disputed payment, and they were told in an official response that there is no such sojourn tax or legal article that obliges boaters to pay such fees. In other words, the Croatian officials based in Dubrovnik robbed them. The British tourists naturally demanded a refund.

''I have to admit that this event left a bitter taste in my mouth. While we were sailing towards Montenegro, we agreed that we'd never return to Croatia again,'' the unsurprisingly indignant British woman said in her video.

The video's description reads: ''It was a shock to be threatened with arrest and have our passports taken away when trying to check out of Croatia. We have had problems before with Croatian officials but we really didn't expect this level of illegal activity'' which is damning for Croatian nautical tourism, which is otherwise very popular. The comments below are also from people who are now reconsidering paying the Croatian coast a visit.

Watch the video in full below:

The Ministry of Tourism was then asked to provide a comment on this case, as their services had indeed responded to the British tourists in question that the tax they had to pay to the officials did not even exist. Attempts have also been made to find out whether the individuals working for the police in question were properly punished for extortion, but no response has been received yet.

An initial report stated that the officers involved were customs officers, but that was swiftly corrected by Croatian customs, who stated that they have nothing to do with foreign nationals and their notifications about leaving Croatia, and that this was a matter involving the police, not them.

It is also important to note that Croatian customs officers operate under the Ministry of Finance, and not under the Interior Ministry (MUP), like the police do.

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Monday, 19 July 2021

Croatian Police Discover Over 700 Fake PCR Tests So Far This Year

ZAGREB, 19 July 2021 - So far this year, Croatian police have discovered over 700 forged PCR tests, but no fake EU digital COVID certificates.

By 14 July this year, a total of 703 counterfeit PCR tests have been discovered, mostly in Vukovar-Srijem County (251), Slavonski Brod-Posavina County (134), Istria County (95), and Split-Dalmatia County (64), the Ministry of the Interior said on Monday.

Last week, police found 26 persons, including 13 minors, trying to enter a football stadium in Split with fake PCR tests. In late May, in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, 26 people were discovered in the process of forging PCR tests and most of them were foreign nationals.

At several border crossing points, PCR tests shown by foreign nationals turned out to be forged. Among the foreigners with forged tests were citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Austria, Albania, Kosovo, the Czech Republic, Italy, Montenegro, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, and Slovenia. Croatian citizens are also known to have used forged PCR tests to enter the country or to have the self-isolation order lifted.

Some of the foreign nationals admitted that they found a negative PCR test online and then made an effort to put their own details in it.

The police say that so far they have not encountered any forged EU digital COVID certificates nor do they have any records of their misuse.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

The Guardian: Croatian Police Accused of Sexually Abusing Afghan Woman

ZAGREB, 7 April, 2021 - A woman from Afghanistan claims that she was sexually abused by Croatian border police, and even held at knifepoint, after crossing the border, the Guardian said on Wednesday.

According to a dossier from the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the incident occurred on 15 February, in Croatian territory, a few kilometres from the Bosnian city of Velika Kladuša, the British newspaper said.

In the report the woman said she tried to cross the border with a group of four others, including two children, but they were stopped by an officer who allegedly pointed a rifle at them.

The Afghans asked for asylum, at which one of the officers laughed, after which the woman was singled out for a search, the Guardian said, quoting her as saying that she insisted that he should not touch her because she was a woman and a Muslim, after which the officer slapped her.

The officer allegedly touched her breasts and behind, and ordered her to remove all her T-shirts, which she refused. The five migrants were then taken away in a police vehicle, after which the police again hit the Afghan woman, ordering her to strip naked and starting to sexually abuse her, at one point putting a knife to her throat.

The police physically assaulted other migrants from the group as well, and ordered them to walk back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Guardian said.

It added that the European Commission condemned this alleged act and called on the Croatian authorities to investigate all allegations and punish those responsible.

DRC secretary general Charlotte Slente was quoted as saying that despite the Commission’s engagement on the migrant issue on the Croatian border, there had been no progress in recent months either in investigations of reports of brutal treatment by police or in the development of independent border monitoring mechanisms.

According to the Guardian, the Croatian Interior Ministry said there were no recorded dealings with "females from the population of illegal migrants" on the day in question and that Croatian police, by saving the lives of hundreds of migrants from minefields, rivers and snow, showed not only an organised and professional approach in the protection of the state border but humanity as well.

The Interior Ministry says the Croatian police are persistently portrayed as brutal without a single piece of evidence and that illegal migrants, when they fail to cross the border, are ready to falsely accuse those same police of abuse, the Guardian said.

According to the DRC, since May 2019 almost 24,000 migrants have been illegally pushed back to Bosnia, including 547 between January and February 2021.

For more about violence against migrants in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 19 March 2021

1129 Brand New Traffic Cameras Coming to Croatian Motorways

March the 19th, 2021 - Over one thousand brand new traffic cameras are due to grace Croatian motorways, adding an additional deterrent to those considering speeding or reckless driving.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, driving in the wrong direction, pedestrians or a stopped vehicle on the road are just some of the traffic hazards about which the state-of-the-art automatic incident detection system (AID) procured by Croatian Motorways will alert HAC employees working in traffic control centres in just a few seconds, according to a report from Vecernji list.

Subsequently, additional cameras will be installed for this purpose on Croatian motorways, more specifically on the sections of the Rijeka - Zagreb and Rijeka - Rupa motorways, given that the company ARZ has been merged with HAC.

The total value of this procurement is estimated to stand at approximately 55 million kuna. The AID system detects when an incident happens and generates an alarm just a few seconds after the incident occurs, allowing the operator to do what is needed to prevent a secondary incident.

The AID triggers an audible alarm in the event, automatically displays the scene of the incident on the road to the operator and records everything happening, and the cameras also cover a minimum of three traffic lanes and one stop lane.

In addition to the incidents already mentioned, AID warns of traffic congestion, slow vehicles and any loss of normal levels of visibility. An alarm sounds in the tunnel when the loss of visibility of the cameras is detected by the appearance of smoke due to a fire having broken out somewhere nearby.

The system set to be placed along Croatian motorways can also collect data on vehicle classification, average speed, travel time, vehicle distance and more. The new traffic cameras will have a motorised varifocal lens, an IR reflector, and will have the ability to minimum 25 frames per second.

HAC has a Central Centre for the Supervision and Management of Motorway Traffic connects all regional Croatian motorway traffic control and management centres (RCNUPAC).

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Friday, 5 March 2021

Croatian Police and Deminers Rescue Several Migrants From Minefield

ZAGREB, 5 March, 2021 - Police and deminers yesterday and today rescued several illegal migrants whose lives were in jeopardy in the mine field in Saborsko municipality, after one migrant was killed and several sustained injuries in a landmine blast, the Interior Ministry (MUP) said on Friday evening.

Members of Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit yesterday searched the area by helicopter and then warned migrants that they were in a mine suspected area and should stay in place until help arrives. Deminers of Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit this morning started to inspect the field and create a safe corridor for evacuation and ten persons were rescued and offered medical help.

MUP said in the press release that a group of foreign nationals had illegally reached Croatia and entered a mine suspected area in a forest area in municipality Saborsko. There, a younger man stepped on an unidentified explosive device and died, while other persons from the group sustained injuries in the blast. After receiving a report, police officers found one man dead and one injured, while the rest of the group went away in unknown direction.

According to the interior ministry, at the moment six persons have an intention to make an application for international protection in Croatia, while other persons are in medical care due to having sustained injuries.The life of one of them is in danger.

The Ministry of the Interior and Croatian police, it is recalled, have been intensively underscoring the dangers of illegal migrations since 2018, especially warning of the danger of mine suspected areas, severe winter conditions in the mountains and rivers.

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