ZAGREB, Oct 12 (Hina) – The Ministry of the Interior has said that the person who shot at a police officer outside the government offices in Zagreb on Monday morning was a 22-year-old man who a while later committed suicide at a different location and who did not have a police record.
According to unofficial sources, the man hails from Kutina, a town some 70 kilometres southeast of Zagreb.
Before he committed the crime, the man allegedly wrote a Facebook post full of grammatical errors, saying, among other things, that “there has been enough of tricks” and “trampling on human values”.
PM: We’ll step up security, minister of interior not responsible
PM Andrej Plenkovic has said that the circumstances and reason for an attempt to kill a police officer working as a government security guard, which occurred on Monday morning, are being investigated, that security measures will be reexamined and that the minister of the interior is not responsible.
Addressing reporters in St. Mark’s Square, where the government offices are located and where earlier in the day a 22-year-old man gravely wounded a police officer with a machine-gun, killing himself afterward at a different location, Plenkovic said that police and prosecutorial authorities were doing their best to investigate how that could happen and establish the motive.
“This is evidently an incident for which we lack sufficient information for more serious analysis. Police and prosecutors will establish if this was an act by a single person. Judging from available information, I would say that it was. But it is too early to comment in greater detail,” he said.
Plenkovic wished the wounded police officer a speedy recovery and expressed support to his family.
The PM said that since a protest outside the government building in early September, when a van carrying watermelons was unloaded there by member of the European Parliament Ivan Vilibor Sincic, who by doing so wanted to point to the poor status of farmers, security had been stepped up.
“We have had a culture of openness for years in Croatian democracy. St. Mark’s Square, where state institutions are located, is accessible by everyone… under the current regime, public gatherings are allowed but today’s incident is a new situation and it is likely to prompt new analyses of security,” he said.
He said that he did not think the shooting had anything to do with Sincic’s performance.
There is freedom of movement in St. Mark’s Square and people passing by can carry anything they want in their bags, he said.
“Unfortunately, that is a problem,” he said, announcing that security measures would be stepped up.
Answering a reporter’s question, he said that he did not think that there was any responsibility on the part of Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic.
“There is no responsibility on his part. I can see that the media have already started asking questions… No. This is a very clear answer, now and for the next four years,” said Plenkovic.
Impossible to control everyone who might carry a weapon
Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said that it was impossible to control everyone who might be hiding a weapon under their clothes.
Bozinovic said that in the past month since protesters unloaded watermelons in front of the government building, the Interior Ministry had made several versions of security plans for St Mark’s Square.
He said that the highest level of security could only be achieved if St Mark’s Square was completely sealed so that not only vehicles but also pedestrians would only be able to go through with a pass, or there could be checkpoints such as those some cities had for monuments or places or religious gatherings.
He recalled the Constitutional Court’s decision lifting the ban on gatherings in St Mark’s Square.
According to Bozinovic, if the level of security in St Mark’s Square was raised to the highest level, that would mean a restriction on freedom of movement.
Asked whether he thought it would be better to relocate the institutions from St Mark’s Square, Bozinovic said that it would definitely be better if they were somewhere else, but that that was not so easy to do.
“The parliament’s location is traditionally here and it is not so easy to move institutions,” he said.
He said that several scenarios had been made and that they would see “what the most optimal solution will be after this event.”
“However, that is not something that can be done overnight. In the meantime, police have stepped up their presence in the square, as well as control, especially over traffic,” Bozinovic said.
Asked how it was possible that no police officer saw a man carrying a machine-gun on his way to the government building, Bozinovic said that that was a hypothetical question.
“I do not know if he hid the machine-gun, under a jacket, in a bag,” the minister said, adding that it would be impossible to control at all times everyone who could be dressed in a way that they could be hiding a weapon.
Everything that can be done is being and will be done, measures will be stepped up, he said.
President calls on government to raise security in St Mark’s Square
President Zoran Milanovic on Monday said that the current accessibility of the square was unacceptable and he urged higher security.
“The highest state institutions are there, it should not be a tourist destination, those institutions should be appropriately protected,” Milanovic said.
Milanovic called on the government to protect St. Mark’s Square in an appropriate way, adding that “the only way to prevent incidents (like this one) is to physically prevent them.”
Asked by reporters whether he suggested the square should be made accessible only to people who work and live there, the president said that the issue should be addressed by professionals and that it was also a matter of common sense.
He said that he had phoned Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic around 11 a.m. and they concluded that a meeting of the Council for National Security would not be convened.
Milanovic went on to say that there had always been and would be acts of violence and called on the government, the police and the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) to control the amount and dispersion of firearms which citizens possess illegally.
“The firearm used in the incident this morning is usually used by the Croatian Army, and such firearms must not be part of anyone’s privately owned weapons. In that regard, the government, the police and SOA enjoy my support,” the president said.