Croatia: Ministry of the Interior Responds to IGLHRC's Message

UPDATE

Below you can read the response received by IGLHRC to our letter to the Ministry of the Interior of Croatia.

Please also see the following documents related to the violent incidents around the LGBT march in Zagreb, Croatia, this summer:

  • joint letter from IGLHRC & ILGA-Europe to the President and Prime Minister of Croatia(PDF format)
  • responses to the joint letter from and the Ombudswoman for Gender Equality
REPUBLIC OF CROATIA
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR
MINISTER'S CABINET

Number: 511-01-07-53098/1-07.
Zagreb, 10 August 2007

-COURTESY TRANSLATION-

INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Attn. Mr Adrian Coman
by e-mail acoman@iglhrc.org

Dear Mr Coman,

This Ministry has received several petitions from different organisations, institutions and individuals that indicate the alleged police failures in relation to the participants of the 2007 Zagreb Pride manifestation.

By checking the allegations from the said petitions, it has been determined that police officers from Zagreb Police Administration have taken comprehensive measures and actions with a view to protecting the participants of the 2007 Zagreb Pride public gathering in line with the existing legal regulations. Therefore, security measures have been agreed upon with the competent persons from Lesbian Group Kontra, which was the organiser of the said event. We have also offered all the necessary additional assistance from police officers with a view to providing protection to the participants after they leave the event. The cooperation and conduct of the engaged police officers were evaluated as highly professional by the organisers.

On 7 July 2007, at 4.25 p.m., after the official part of the manifestation was over, the operations and communications centre of Zagreb Police Administration received a report on the assault on some participants of the manifestation who found themselves in Tkalčićeva Street. Police officers were immediately sent there, where they, among other people found Mr Mitja Blažič, a Slovenian national, and Mr Gianpaolo Silvestri, Italian Senator. The found participants of the manifestation were non-cooperative in their first contact with police officers, which made the finding and identification of perpetrators more difficult. According to the available information, police officers organised the investigation and search of the close and wide area of the incident, which resulted in bringing in to the police premises of one person suspected of having participated in the said assault on the participants of the 2007 Zagreb Pride found in Tkalčićeva Street.

For the purposes of more efficient collection of information, the said participants of the manifestation were, of their own will, transported in a service vehicle to the premises of the Zagreb Police Station 1. Immediately after their arrival they were placed in one room, separate from other citizens who were already at the Police Station premises, to avoid possible conflicts.

After having conducted the interviews with all the participants of the incident, Mr Mitja Blažić was, at his own request, issued a statement with the description of the said incident. It, contrary to Mr Blažič’s allegations in the petition, provided a description of facts undoubtedly determined on the basis of the collected information from the participants and witnesses of the very incident. We think that the said failure in no way influenced the enforcement of his rights, nor the proper determination of facts.

Since, during their stay at the police premises, some participants of the manifestation behaved inappropriately, they were politely and in a proper manner warned, as would be any other citizen.

Once the interrogations were over, Italian Senator Gianpaolo Silvestri was offered police escort to the Palace Hotel where he was staying, which he refused and expressed satisfaction with the conduct of police officers. Other participants of the manifestation requested transport to their cars which were parked at a car park in Klaićeva Street. Their request was complied with and they were transported in a special service vehicle, the so-called “Black Maria” because there were no other available vehicles at that moment. The participants didn’t have any objections to such transport.

In spite of all the measures and actions taken so far, the perpetrators of the said incident have not been found and identified, and no police failures, except for what has already been mentioned, have been determined in the conduct of police officers towards other participants of the manifestation from Tkalčićeva Street.

As part of their activities related to the 2007 Zagreb Pride manifestation, the police officers from Zagreb Police Administration acted towards 14 persons. After the misdemeanour investigation, the police have charged these 14 people with misdemeanour under the Act on the Offences Against Public Order, Public Gathering Act and Identity Cards Act.

We would like to point out that criminal charges were filed against one citizen where there was reasonable suspicion that his acts (preparation of the so-called Molotov cocktails in order to assault the participants of the manifestation) had all the elements of serious criminal offences against public safety under Article 271(1) of the Criminal Code and of criminal offences of endangering life and property by dangerous public acts and means under Article 262(1) and (3) of the Criminal Code, related to Article 33 of the Criminal Code, as well as of hate crimes under Article 89(36) of the Criminal Code.

We would like to stress that police officers have been carrying out inquiries regarding the criminal offence of threats, which was reported on 10 July 2007 by Mr Franco Dota, one of the members of the organisation committee of the 2007 Zagreb Pride. Likewise, inquiries have been carried out to establish the identity of the perpetrator of the assault on Mr Victor Zahtila, member of the Iskorak organisation. However, after several attempts, police officers have failed to establish contact with Mr Zahtila with a view to conducting the official identification by way of looking at previously taken photographs of rioters.

The professional engagement of police officers will continue to be focused on the prevention and prosecution of punishable offences, as well as on the suppression of violence based on disrespect for diversity and discrimination in expressing sexual orientations.

We condemn the assaults on the participants of the manifestation in any form, and in particular those that endanger human life and dignity, and we express our regret if the conduct of police officers caused any discomfort to certain participants of the manifestation.

Yours sincerely,

HEAD OF CABINET

Dražen Krtanjek