Police officers from the Zagreb Police Department are conducting a criminal investigation involving a 34-year-old Turkish national, who attempted to smuggle 15 migrants, after he disobeyed police orders, hit a police vehicle with his van and attempted to flee.
The suspect has been detained on charges of committing the criminal offenses of “Illegal entry, movement and stay in the Republic of Croatia, another EU Member State or signatories to the Schengen Agreement”, “Coercion against an official” and “Damage to someone else’s property,” according to Laura Vuckovic/Zagreb Info on December 28, 2019.
On Tuesday, December 24, 2019 at 12:45am, police officers stopped an Iveco Daily van with German license plates, which was driven by a 34-year-old Turkish national, at the Sveta Helena rest stop on the A4 Zagreb – Goričan motorway. Upon inspection, the officers discovered 15 asylum seekers in the cargo area of the van.
Turkish National Loaded Van in Zagreb
A criminal investigation has confirmed that the suspect, a Turkish national, placed the 15 asylum seekers in the cargo area of a van on December 24, at an undetermined location in Zagreb, with the intention of acquiring undue financial gain. While driving on the A4 Zagreb – Goričan motorway, he was spotted and stopped by police officers at a gas station, and the police officer identified himself to the driver with a badge and ID.
Although the police officer was standing next to the driver’s door, the suspect disobeyed his order to turn off and exit the vehicle. Then, he attempted to flee by driving away and struck the front door of the police vehicle with his van. After about 15 meters, police officers prevented him from going any further and escaping.
After the initial criminal investigation was completed, the suspect was handed over to the detention supervisor, and a criminal complaint was filed with the State Attorney’s Office on suspicion of committing the above-mentioned criminal offenses.
Almost 1000 Migrant Smugglers Arrested in Croatia
As of December 27, 2019; 976 migrant smugglers have been arrested in Croatia and charged with 904 crimes. As of the same date; 1,661 people have also applied for international protection in Croatia. In more than 70 percent of those cases, the procedure for granting international protection has been suspended because the applicants have arbitrarily left the official asylum seekers’ shelter, which suggests a systematic abuse of the Procedure for International Protection.
In this scenario, asylum seekers, after being discovered while attempting cross the state border illegally into Croatia, most often within Lika-Senj Police District, express a false intention to seek international protection in Croatia after they have been detained. Then they use smuggling networks to continue their journey to their destination countries (Austria, Germany, Italy).
According to Zagreb Police, these scenarios are referred to as “secondary migrations” because they are comprised of exclusively economic migrants. These migrants do not appear to show any evidence of persecution in their country of origin, nor in the countries they are attempting to enter Croatia from (Bosnia, Serbia).
TCN reported another crash earlier this year which involved a Serbian national driving a van filled with 33 migrants, who crashed into a roadblock while attempting to flee police.
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