November 12, 2023 – Prime Minister relieves Defence Minister Mario Banožić of his duties following the fatal car accident in eastern Croatia yesterday, reports Poslovni.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković reported that after this morning’s traffic accident in which the Minister of Defense was involved and one person died, he dismissed Marija Banožić and authorized State Secretary Zdravko Jakop to lead the Ministry of Defense.
In this morning’s traffic accident in Vinkovci, Goran Šarić was killed, and Banožić was seriously injured and hospitalized in KBC Osijek.
In a statement to the journalists in Banski dvori, the Prime Minister expressed his condolences to the Šarić family and wished a speedy recovery to Banožić, who has brain, chest, and limb injuries and does not remember the accident.
“Banožić caused the accident”
“We expressed our condolences to the Šarić family through the mayor of Vinkovac who visited the wife of Mr. Šarić in the early afternoon, we are in contact with the wife of minister Banožić,” said the prime minister.
In these circumstances, which are truly extraordinary due to this serious traffic accident, added the Prime Minister, I relieved Banožić of his duties as Minister of Defense.
“And I authorized the State Secretary Zdravko Jakop to perform all tasks as the State Secretary so that the Ministry of Defense functions in the best possible way,” he reported.
On several occasions, the Prime Minister expressed regret for the accident, first of all, he emphasized, for Mr. Šarić, his family, his two daughters, but also for Minister Banožić. The government, he said, will find ways to help the Šarić family, and he wished Banožić recovery and stabilization of his health.
After the journalist’s question, he also commented on Banožić’s insurance status, saying that a protected person of the 2nd category can, if he wishes, drive his own car.
“Banožić was driving his personal vehicle, he had no insurance, he was going to a private situation, he was not going to anything official,” the prime minister added, asserting that it is always better for protected persons to be in vehicles driven by professionals, “people who are competent and adequately trained for that”.
This was a situation where he was driving his car alone over the weekend and this serious traffic accident occurred, he said.
Journalists also asked him if he knew if Banožić was driving under the influence of alcohol, since information appeared in the public that he was at a party last night, and the prime minister said that he did not know where Banožić was last night.
Yesterday morning, on behalf of the government, he participated in the day of the Vukovar-Srijem County in Ilok, he stated and added that he really does not know where Banožić was last night.
The deputy county state attorney from Vukovar, Biljana Luburić, confirmed earlier on Saturday that the traffic accident in which the van driver died on Saturday at the exit from Vinkovci was caused by the Minister of Defense Mario Banožić, without mentioning the names of the participants in the accident.