Journalist Attacked Near Property Hidden by Health Minister Kujundzic

Lauren Simmonds

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Health Minister Kujundzic (HDZ) owns a home in his native Ivanbegovina in Split-Dalmatia County, which, according to official records, is a mere 100 square feet and has no garden. Land registers, however, state that the house is 184 square metres in size.

As Slobodna Dalmacija/Andrea Topic writes on the 24th of January, 2020, the plot of land, which also belongs to the aforementioned minister, is 1016 square meters in size. In other words, Health Minister Milan Kujundzic, in addition to all other real estate affairs registered officially, forgot to mention that ”little bit” of land, while citing a house of almost half the size. He also wrote that its value is only a measly 533 euros per square metre, writes Slobodna Dalmacija.

If we’re to go off what a Slobodna Dalmacija’s journalist witnessed yesterday, such official registers should be well and truly ignored.

Far from what he described officially, Health Minister Kujundzic’s property is actually a two-storey luxury villa. Finished in stone and with a spacious backyard pool. There’s a neatly cut lawn, a wrought iron fence, and some nice modern windows. Another beautiful property is being built next to it. The locals who are working on it, who are of course Minister Kujundzic’s relatives, immediately presented themselves in a beautiful manner…

But before we get to all that, it’s time for a little digression…

In journalistic texts, it is customary to use the pronouns ”we” when referring to a team that has been out in the field, or ”us” as a team of journalists from one media outlet. A visit to one of Health Minister Kujundzic’s properties in the vicinity of Imotski seemed like a fairly routine, normal task, and nobody thought that anything could go wrong; nor did Slobodna’s journalists think that purely for the sake of writing this article they’d have to go and use the first person singular – I.

Here is the terrible experience of a Slobodna Dalmacija journalist transmitted and translated into English in full:

”So, it was just before eleven o’clock when I parked my car in front of a house which is undoubtedly claimed to be 1/1 owned by Health Minister Milan Kujundzic, who resides in Zagreb, at ”such and such” address, because it would not be ethical to write that here. It was a beautiful winter day along a deserted road covered with stones and rocks, and the sounds of digging, tools and shouting from the workers. From the passenger seat, I picked up my camera and stepped out onto the road to see where it was best to film the house from without breaking any trespassing laws. I looked up worriedly because I heard a terrible cry from the direction of the house which was under construction. Some guy was coming running towards me. He was in black and was of a medium build.

“Hello,” I said, especially glowing because I recognised him. Yes, this is Health Minister Kujundzic’s close relative, Kujundzic is also his surname, he also has a monument to Franjo Tudjman and has been a member of HDZ for twenty years, and I know all this because recently I was in Ivanbegovina talking to him when I was doing a report on the results of the local election. And he recognised me, too! But he wasn’t pleased to see me.

”You’re not going to film here! Who gave you permission to film here? Where’s your warrant to film here? This road belongs to the Minister [Kujundzic], get that car out of here! Move it! Move it!” he howled in a thick Dalmatian accent, getting in my face.

”What minister? This road is public, it’s registered by the City of Imotski!” I replied confidently, because just this morning before departure I was checking both the cadastre and the land register to see who owns the plots around the minister’s house. He didn’t believe me. I opened the app on my phone, found a plot of land and showed him the information to prove that I was right. He said it was a lie and that everything was Milan Kujundzic’s, that Milan was the boss of the house and that Milan didn’t want journalists around it. He said all this while waving his hands around aggressively.

I opened the car door. Then the other workers came, four, five of them. All shouting and making a noise. Everyone was trying to force me to leave because the road belongs to ”their Milan”. They surrounded me. I was thinking about running away, I had nowhere to go. Every possible gap around me was cut off. Then I got in the car and slammed the door shut. In a panic, I couldn’t find where all the locks inside were, honestly, I’ve never needed that button.

Health Minister Kujundzic’s relatives, who introduced themselves in this way, surrounded my car on all sides.

One of them sat down on the back of the car (boot/trunk), the first one I remembered from the reportage (about the local elections), and I remember that his last name was also Kujundzic, he was standing in front of the bonnet (hood). The third man pulled his hood up and started filming me with his phone, holding the passenger door so I couldn’t even get out. The fourth one came up to my door. They yelled, shouted and rocked the car by leaning on it. I wanted to run away. I yelled for them to move away, I lowered the window and yelled at them to leave me alone so I could leave. They didn’t want to. I started the car and started revving it. They stood in front of the bonnet, except for the one who was guarding the boot so that I couldn’t consider reversing.

They leaned their hands on the car, not letting me go, blocking my path with their bodies. If I put my foot down, I’m screwed, I thought. Nobody would care why I was there and who they were, or what they did, they’d care only about the fact that I ran over three people. I was shaking, panicking. I was screaming inside myself. I typed the number of my editors into my phone. They called the police.

And these kidnappers also called someone. They talked among themselves about calling Health Minister Kujundzic. That’s what they said. Boss, that’s what they call him. To scare me, they opened the car door. I couldn’t move. Neither forward nor backward. They were yelling.

”What do you want from me? Leave me alone, move away!” I yelled at them.

“We’ll see what the Boss says,” said Health Minister Kujundzic’s relative, also named Kujundzic, with a disgusting chuckle in his voice.

“You want to have a drink with us? Come with us to the house, hang out for a while, come on, we’ll have some brandy, you and the four of us, hahaha,” said one of them, as I restrained my urge to vomit. He later opened the door. On my side.

“Alright, you’ve got permission to film,” he said. Health Minister Kujundzic himself saved me. As far as I understood from their conversation, he told them to let me go. What if he’d said to keep me there?

About half an hour. That’s how long all that terror lasted. Blocking me in, pounding on the glass, grinning and shouting things at me. Finally, the police came.

They talked to me first. I showed them the footage. I was able to record part of this horror, some of the videos were completely black pictures, because I forgot, in panic, to turn the lens towards the abusers. The police reviewed it all. Then they went up to them.

”Oh we’re not lying, we’ve done nothing, she came here and we just asked her: “Excuse me, miss, can we help you!” they assured the police.

What car? What threatening? What deprivation of liberty. They denied everything. Despite the recording. Despite seeing and knowing that I was filming them. Despite knowing that I would undoubtedly give the recording to the police. Why? They obviously have a good boss. They obviously have no reason to fear anyone at all.”

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