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.

Friday, 29 January 2021

VIDEO: Prohibition-Era Nightclubbing Zagreb, 33 Fined

January 29, 2021 – It has all the ingredients of a movie about Al Capone or Lucky Luciano in 1920s Chicago - illicit, hidden drinking dens, dancing girls, bullets, guns, gangsters and a police raid, only with a neon lighting scheme that remains fashionable strictly in Balkan clubs. Welcome to Prohibition-era nightclubbing Zagreb

It has all the ingredients of a movie about Al Capone (main picture) or Lucky Luciano in 1920s Chicago - illicit, hidden drinking dens, dancing girls, bullets, guns, gangsters and a police raid, only with a neon lighting scheme that remains fashionable strictly in Balkan clubs. Welcome to Prohibition-era nightclubbing Zagreb.

Croatian police have issued a video of a raid they undertook to shut down a Prohibition-era nightclubbing party in Zagreb. Inside the venue, they found 33 persons. None were wearing masks.

One young man at the party was caught with a pistol and bullets. If it weren't for the police's modern helmets with visors and the Balkan-cool neon lighting, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching Eliot Ness and The Untouchables busting an illegal speakeasy. All cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs are supposed to be closed at the moment under measures adopted to counter the spread of Coronavirus.

Screenshot_129.pngThe pistol found by police while conducting a search on a 24-year-old at the club - Youtube screenshot

In the original era of America's Prohibition, under which the production, import, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal, Al Capone ultimately received an 11-year prison sentence for tax evasion and Lucky Luciano was looking at 30 - 50 years until he struck a deal and agreed to be deported to Italy. Thankfully, there are no mafia murders connected to this tale of Prohibition-era nightclubbing in Zagreb.

Depiction of an illicit nightclub - a speakeasy - in Prohibition-era America from the classic 1976 Alan Parker-directed children's movie and musical 'Bugsy Malone'

In addition to the video, the police released a statement about the prohibition-era nightclubbing raid:

"During the operation, a total of 33 people were found, identified and checked in said facility. No coercive measures were used during the actions of the police officers. 33 people were found not wearing protective masks, which is why the police officers issued them three Notices of Misdemeanor and 30 fines were collected for violations of Article 47, paragraph 2, item 9 of the Law on the Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases.

Furthermore, for one of the caught persons, a 24-year-old was searched and a gas pistol was found in his possession, for which he was issued a Mandatory Misdemeanor Order for the offence under Article 27, paragraph 2 of the Law on procurement and possession of weapons by citizens.

Screenshot_139.pngBullets found by the police at the prohibition-era nightclubbing scene in Zagreb

Also, officials of the Directorate of Civil Protection found violations of epidemiological measures contrary to the Decision on necessary epidemiological measures restricting gatherings and introducing other necessary epidemiological measures and recommendations to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 through gatherings. Due to performing catering activities contrary to the decisions of the Civil Protection Headquarters, officials of the State Inspectorate, Tourist Inspection, Zagreb Regional Office found a violation of Article 9A of the Catering Act and issued an oral decision banning the work, and the facility was sealed for at least 30 days. Misdemeanor proceedings will be initiated against the legal and responsible person.

As part of the criminal investigation, the 45-year-old owner of a catering facility was taken to the official premises of the Zagreb Police Administration for a criminal investigation on suspicion of having committed the criminal offence of "Spreading and Transmitting an Infectious Disease" under Article 180. He will be handed over to the custody supervisor after the criminal investigation is completed”

Prohibition in the United States took place in a 13 year period between 1920 and 1933. It is highly unlikely that the bars and cafes of Zagreb will be asked to remain closed for such a length of time. This is not the first instance of Prohibition-era nightclubbing taking place irrespective of epidemiological guidelines in Zagreb. In late November 2020, Croatian media (including Juarnji List) widely reported on police raids that took place at two Zagreb venues, even though measures adopted in the fight against the pandemic were at that time more relaxed.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

45 People With Fake PCR Tests Detained At Croatian Border In One Weekend

January 19, 2021 – 45 people tried to enter Croatia with fake PCR tests this weekend alone. They were caught by Croatian police, detained at the border and reported to the State's Attorney office. If found guilty, each faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison

Some 45 people tried to enter Croatia through the borders of one county with fake PCR tests this past weekend.

Travel from Bosnia and Herzegovina into Croatia currently requires the production of a negative PCR test or a doctor's certificate proving you have successfully passed through a COVID-19 infection in recent months.

Since the ban on entering Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina without a negative PCR test was introduced, fake PCR tests are increasingly being forged. Border police and customs officers at crossings in Brod-Posavina County have met many people trying to cross the border with fake PCR tests. But, this weekend a new record number of forged tests were found on the county's border crossings.

According to a statement from the Brod-Posavina Police Department, as many as 45 attempts to enter the country with fake PCR tests were discovered on Saturday and Sunday.

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"At the Stara Gradiška border crossing, police officers determined that 43 persons, mostly citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented fake PCR tests issued in BiH at the border control. At the Slavonski Brod border crossing, two people were registered who gave forged tests," the Brod-Posavina police reported.

Police officers file criminal charges against all those suspected of committing the criminal offence of forgery of a document with the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Slavonski Brod. If found guilty, such persons face up to three years in prison.

The overall number of people detained on Croatia's border with fake PCR tests this weekend could actually be higher - the figures of 45 persons detained with fake PCR tests were released by the police of just one county in Croatia - Brod-Posavina County. A further eight Croatian counties exist along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Each has border crossings between the two countries.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Global Terrorism Index 2020: Croatia is a Completely Safe Country

ZAGREB December 2, 2020 – Croatia is a completely safe country, according to the latest figures from the Global Terrorism Index

According to the Global Terrorism Index, Croatia is a completely safe country. Their findings are reported annually by the Institute for Economy and Peace. In their most recent report (published late November 2020), from the year beginning 2018 and ending in 2019, Croatia scored an index rating of 0.0 on the impact of terrorism. This means that, in regards to the threat of and the fallout from terrorism, Croatia is a completely safe country.

In the report, terrorism affects most the citizens of three countries: Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria. Terrorist groups are powerful and active in these three nations. On a daily basis, they affect and change the lives of all the people who live in these countries, particularly those who inhabit larger population centres.

The situation is particularly tragic in Afghanistan (with an index rating of 9.5). 41% of all fatal victims of terrorist globally live in that one country alone. The second country most-affected on the list is Nigeria with 9%. Afghanistan and Nigeria were the only two countries which each suffered more than 1,000 deaths from terrorism.

Global-Terrorism-Index-2019.jpgA map showing the impact of terrorism globally. The figures were compiled in a one year period between 2018 and 2019, published as an annual report in late November 2020 © Institute for Economy and Peace (IEP)

Globally deaths from terrorism fell for the fifth consecutive year in 2019 to 13,826, a 15 per cent decrease from the prior year. The peak of deaths from terrorism occurred in 2014 and this coincides with the high point of influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL). The figures from 2019 show a decrease of 59% since then.

A total of 63 countries recorded at least one death from terrorism in the most recent report. Although dismal reading, this is in fact the lowest number of countries to have reported such since 2013.

The global economic impact of terrorism was US$16.4 billion in the twelve-month period covered by the report, a decrease of 25 per cent from the previous year. However, the true economic impact of terrorism is much higher as these figures do not account for the indirect impact on business, investment, and the costs associated with security agencies in countering terrorism.

ISIS (or ISIL)'s centre of activity has been shown to have moved to sub-Saharan Africa in the period. Total deaths by ISIL in the region have increased by 67%. ISIL and their affiliates were also responsible for attacks in 27 countries in the year period ending 2019.

GTI-2020-twitter-2020-41-per-cent-ISIL-sub-saharan.jpg© Institute for Economy and Peace (IEP)

The GTI uses a number of factors to calculate its score, including the number of incidences, fatalities, injuries and property damage. The Taliban remained the world's deadliest terrorist group in 2019; however, terrorist deaths attributed to the group declined by 18%. ISIL's strength and influence also continued to decline. For the first time since the group became active, it was responsible for less than a thousand deaths throughout the year.

It is not yet known whether the attack on government buildings in Zagreb in 2020 will affect Croatia's rating on the index published next year. Although a lone endeavour, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković is the most high-profile commentator (of many) to have said the attack had elements of terrorism. The global increase in threat from domestic attacks is clearly evident within the rest of the most recent report.

In North America, Western Europe and Oceania, terrorist attacks by groups or individuals involved in far-right politics have increased by 250 per cent since 2014. They are now higher than at any time in the last 50 years. There were 89 deaths attributed to far-right terrorists in 2019. In the USA, white supremacists and other rightwing extremists have been responsible for 67% of domestic terror attacks and plots so far this year.

SaintMark'sChurch.jpgSaint Mark's Square in Zagreb, scene of a shooting in 2020, perpetrated by a Croatian citizen © Marc Rowlands

There have so far not been any terrorist actions attributable to fundamentalist Islamic groups in Croatia, unlike other European countries such as Spain, Germany, France and the UK. Eastern and southern Europe have experienced more civil unrest in direct correlation with the rise of far-right politics in the region. The popularity of far-right politics has risen ever since the 2008 financial crisis and has continued through the economic recession which followed.

Such trends are expected to continue because of the anticipated and extended economic downturn caused by COVID-19, which is likely to increase political instability and violence. Since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020, preliminary data suggests a decline in both incidents and deaths from terrorism in most regions in the world. However, it is expected that the pandemic is likely to present new and distinct counter-terrorism challenges.

Of Croatia's neighbours, Bosnia and Herzegovina recorded the largest improvement in the whole of Europe with their 2019 index rating (followed by Austria and Sweden). Only two terrorist attacks were recorded in the country in 2019, compared to six the previous year. Slovenia also scored a 0.0 rating, meaning it can say that it, like Croatia is a completely safe country.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

PHOTOS: Before & After - How HNK Afterhours Lost Its Cool

ZAGREB October 13, 2020 – Since early June 2020, the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb has served as a nightly meeting point for the city's youths. In these pictures and video we see the incredible youth phenomenon as it once was and also how HNK afterhours lost its cool

Built in 1895, the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb (HNK Zagreb) is one of the finest pieces of architecture in a city not short on fine Austro-Hungarian buildings. Sitting in the middle of Republic of Croatia Square, it is the focal point of Lower Town. A multi-purpose space, it has world-class opera and ballet companies in-house.

image (1).jpg© David Bakarić

This week, several media outlets have reported on the gathering of youths outside the theatre, especially on weekend nights. While an interesting read, including the thoughts of a sociologist, these stories are a bit out of date. Because the truth is, the party is over - HNK afterhours lost its cool many weeks ago.

BEFORE

image (4).jpg
© Marc Rowlands

In early June, when the three-month Coronavirus lockdown finally ended, HNK Zagreb became the de facto meeting point for Zagreb youth. It all happened rather spontaneously. There were no advertisements. Word spread from peer-to-peer and young people from as far away as Rijeka, Ivanic-grad and Zabok made the journey to take part in the youth culture phenomenon.

image (2).jpg© David Bakarić

image (7).jpg© Marc Rowlands

It was a joyful scene - thousands of people from every youth tribe imaginable; punk and metal fans, sports students, classical musicians, football fans, young patriots, LGBT teens, devout Christians and kids who would usually go to the cajke (folk music) club sat side-by-side. It was good-natured. Everyone was glad to be out of the house and be able to meet their peers. Everyone got along.

image (11).jpg© David Bakarić

image (6).jpg© David Bakarić

image5.jpeg© David Bakarić

image3.jpeg© David Bakarić

Impromptu theatre performances and music concerts took place. Soundsystems were set up. There was laughter, music, dancing and all round good cheer.

image (8).jpg© David Bakarić

image (10).jpg© David Bakarić

'We are extremely happy and positive that our theatre has been recognized as a place of gathering and sharing positive vibrations between generations,' an official from the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb told this journalist when approached to comment on HNK afterhours. 'Ever since 2014, our hope was to create a warm and welcoming feeling here for everybody, for all age groups and different audiences; to make theatre alive outside the building walls.'

image9.jpegResponsible young partygoers cleaned up after themselves in early June. Those cool kids have long since disappeared from HNK afterhours © David Bakarić

AFTER

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HNK afterhours lost its cool many weeks ago. Becoming an expected rather than a spontaneous gathering was perhaps its death knell. That, and the fact that although everyone knew hundreds were gathering there, no provisions were made for these socialising young people. With no other option on Republic of Croatia Square, the bushes and gardens around the theatre became their toilets.

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It was instantly noticeable when HNK afterhours lost its cool - all of the cool kids just stopped coming. What was once a representation of all the city's youth tribes dwindled to a hardcore few hundred of late-night drinkers with nothing better to do and no place else to go. The theatre and most of the music stopped.

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Then the violence, graffiti and vandalism began. The excessive drinking was one major sign of youth insecurity – people not entirely comfortable with themselves within large groups got drunk to ease their discomfort. Then, they threw up in the bushes. But the violence and graffiti were greater signs of insecurity and immaturity.

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Like dogs urinating on street corners to mark their territory, mindless graffiti 'tags' appeared all over the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb – its steps, its windows, its antique doors. In an effort to leave a permanent mark, the insignificant few seemed determined to destroy everything that had once been joyful and good-natured about this gathering.

Zagreb police intervene when one drunken male started to physically abuse some of his peers. Present at the scene, this journalist commented to a friend that the police had acted bravely. The peer commented that the police had looked scared. They were surrounded by hundreds of spectators to the violence.

You can now guarantee there will be some violence outside the theatre on every weekend night. Zagreb police, who have shown remarkable patience and restraint throughout the whole phenomenon, sit far from the crowd and let the youngsters party. However, Zagreb Police Administration have said that from May 1 to September 30, the police intervened around the Croatian National Theatre Zagreb about 50 times, based on allegations of possible disturbance of public order and peace. In an effort to perhaps try and understand the frustrations of youths at this time, they have filed misdemeanor charges against only six people. This, despite a small, insecure and immature male section of the crowds flexing their muscles against smaller peers – or the police themselves – on a nightly basis. A small cabal of latecomers are ruining the reputation of a youth culture movement which deserves to be much better remembered.

121554186_337487367535021_1901937487742305067_n.jpg121528825_822783415210126_2612493705426715970_n.jpgA young man shows the marks around both eyes that he received in an unprovoked attack at HNK afterhours on the weekend of 9 October 2020

When you're young, it can be difficult to hear that the party is over. After you've had such a good time, you don't want to go home. You want the good times to last forever. But, this party is well and truly finished. HNK afterhours lost its cool many, many weeks ago. It is a rather sad remnant of something that was beautiful while it lasted. But, now it is time for the party to move elsewhere or for the attendees to go home. This beautiful building, its grounds and surrounding residents have played host for long enough. They each deserve a break.

The use of uncredited photographs in this article was granted on condition that the submitting photographers remain anonymous

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Sunday, 20 September 2020

NGOs, Police Focus on Problem of Domestic Violence

ZAGREB, September 20, 2020 - Associations which protect victims of domestic violence have been registering more and more requests for help on a daily basis, notably since the lockdown caused by the coronavirus epidemic, when many victims were forced to spend all of their time with their abusers.

Even though official statistics show a mild decline in the number of cases of domestic violence, police are not ignoring the problem.

They point to the fact that a growing number of such cases are now reported as felonies and not as misdemeanors and call on all who have witnessed domestic violence to report it without delay, including anonymously.

Anita Matijevic of the Police Directorate has said in an interview with Hina that the number of misdemeanors and felonies connected with domestic violence dropped by 2.7% in the first eight months of 2020 from the same period of 2019.

She noted that the number of domestic violence misdemeanors had decreased by 11% or 1,133 fewer cases.

"At the same time, there has been a 42% increase in domestic violence cases treated as felony," she said, noting that this year police have acted in 9,220 cases related to domestic violence and that those cases had the characteristics of either a misdemeanor or a felony.

 

Perpetrators increasingly prosecuted for committing felony

Matijevic noted that in the same period of 2019 there were 9,483 cases of domestic violence, 3% or 260 cases more than this year.

This year has seen an increase in the number of cases of violence treated as a felony because police have been trying to make sure all offences that can be prosecuted as a felony are prosecuted as such.

 

Associations flooded with calls for help

Livija Plancic, head of the Bijeli Krug nongovernmental organisation, which helps victims of violence, warns that the problem of growing domestic violence has been aggravated by the coronavirus crisis as victims were forced to spend entire days with their abusers.

Apart from a mentality in which relations, mostly between men and women, are perceived in a strange way, domestic violence is also triggered by alcohol and drugs as well as by an increasingly difficult financial situation, Plancic said, adding that police were the first to come into contact with the victims and that they should be the ones to provide protection the fastest.

 

Tools for victim protection not used sufficiently

She believes, however, that police do not use sufficiently instruments of victim protection, from a restraining order to removal from the common household, and calls for maintaining professional education to increase the level of competence of those who deal with victims and witnesses, from judges, prosecutors, attorneys, social workers and representatives of nongovernmental organisations to police officers.

On September 22 Croatia marks the national day of the fight against violence against women, commemorating a brutal murder which happened in 1999 when a man killed his wife, a judge and an attorney and severely wounded a court reporter, all women, during divorce proceedings.

 

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Saturday, 5 September 2020

Firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd Sniffs Out Wanted Man in Split

Saturday, 5 September 2020 – More than 100 policemen were searching for the escaped man, but in the end it was a firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd that sniffed him out.

When detainee Branimir Čaleta managed to escape from custody on September 2, armed police were immediately on his tail. They knew where to look – he was seen running in the direction of Turska kula and the Park Mladosti in Split, near the Poljud football stadium.

But, though more than 100 officers were searching for the wanted man, in the end, it was a firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd called Flip that sniffed him out.

TC Perch.jpg
The Malinois Belgian Shepherd is used by armed services, the police and for search and rescue all over the world © TC Perch

Details of Flip's assistance were revealed in an interview undertaken with the dog's handler, Split firefighter Joško Čule by the 24 sata news outlet. Although he was not allowed to reveal details of the fugitive's capture, Joško did speak about his dog.

Flip is a search dog of the Public Fire Brigade of the City of Split, a firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd. He was trained to search in all environments, from urban areas and ruins to wild nature, and in all weather conditions. He is a family dog, loves spending time with children, and with the firefighters. He is an active member of the firefighting team in Split and works every day. Flip is taken into the field when necessary and has so far participated in four searches for lost people. He found them all.

This firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd is just one of the types of Belgian Shepherd. The other three are called Groenendael, Laekenois, and Tervuren. In Belgium, their country of origin, all four types are considered to be varieties of a single breed, differentiated by hair color and texture. Elsewhere, they are sometimes considered separate breeds.

Flip, the firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd is typical in having tan to brown short hair with patches of black. Belgian Shepherd Dogs are highly intelligent, alert, and sensitive to everything going on around them, and they form very strong relationship bonds. They are loyal, intelligent, fun, make good family pets and are very receptive to being trained, thus explaining the position of this firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd.

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A Belgian Shepherd with a close relative, a Dutch Shepherd © Marius Zopole 

It is not only firefighters who use these dogs. They are used as search and rescue dogs by other services and as police and military dogs. They have a good reputation as sniffer dogs, particularly in the field of finding illegal drugs. Several Malinois Belgian Shepherds have been decorated for bravery. They are very protective of their owners and handlers.

The US Secret Service, Israel Defense Forces, Indian NSG commando unit and Royal Australian Air Force use Malinois Belgian Shepherds in their work. The breed is second in number only to the German Shepherd for use across the whole of the US Armed Forces.

The fugitive Branimir Čaleta ran away from police while he was at court in Split, where he was appearing charged with the murder of his one-time girlfriend, a Ukrainian national. Čaleta is now back in custody, thanks to Flip, the firefighters Malinois Belgian Shepherd.

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