The beginning of the retrial of Croatian businessman Tomo Horvatinčić (70) at the District Court in Šibenik, accused of causing a maritime accident on August 16, 2011 in which Italians Francesko and Marinella Salpietro were killed, was unexpectedly and unconventionally marked by justice Maja Šupe, bearing down on journalists present in the courtroom
The businessman was found guilty less than a year ago at the same court for causing the accident and sentenced to 20 months of probation, a decision both sides appealed. The accident took place in August of 2011, with Horvatinčić behind the wheel of a speed boat which ran over a sailboat and caused the death of the Italian couple. During the previous trial, he claimed temporary inability, but also attempted to place the blame on the Italians. Additionally, his company requested compensation for damages to his speed boat from the family of the deceased in the amount of 240.000 euro. Tomo Horvatinčić is a well-known businessman with a history of vehicle accidents. The first was in 1980, when he ran over a pedestrian with a car at a crosswalk and was sentenced to six months probation. The next was in 1989 when he again participated in an accident where a pedestrian was killed, with no consequences to him.
Justice Maja Šupe began by addressing the present journalists: “In this court matter as a judge I was exposed to unprecedented media lynching. The press have declared me the most corrupt judge in the state, being accused through media of sharing a million euro with someone. My persona is the topic of television coverage and journalists did not deal with legal facts. This legal proceeding faced subjective reporting. This happens as you journalists who are covering this procedure are not educated and are not familiar with the Criminal Proceedings Law. Journalists and media do not have the right to assess my verdicts. I answer only to the County Court, Supreme Court and Justice Ministry,” said justice Šupe, not citing exactly which media are being “less than professional,” as Jutarnji List reported on February 20, 2017.
Tomo Horvatinčić once again entered a plea of not guilty for causing the accident and the death of the Salpietros.
“I again express my sorrow for this accident and my deep sympathies to the children of the deceased Italians. It is painful this proceeding is entering its sixth year. I attempted to reconcile with the family several times with financial compensation, but there has been no agreement as of yet,” said Tomo Horvatinčić.
His statements on financial compensation brought a reaction by Zagreb attorney Ognjen Frangeš, representing the Salpietro family.
“The defendant is not telling the truth, it is quite different. He verbally and theatrically promised the children of the deceased a million euro in damages, but directed them to arrange it with his insurance, whilst not offering any of his own assets. At the same time, he informed his insurance he was not to blame for the accident, but the Italians, and hence forbid any payments of any kinds,” said attorney Frangeš.