Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Croatia launches anti-mafia drive

Zagreb protest with candles after murder of Ivana Hodak, 7 Oct 08
Croats have been shocked by a spate of mafia-style killings

Croatia's new justice minister has announced a package of measures to tackle organised crime, following a spate of mafia-style killings.

Ivan Simonovic told the Croatian parliament that courts would fast-track such cases and witness protection would be improved.

He said the problem needed "a scalpel", because it threatened people's security and Croatia's bid to join the EU.

New legislation would allow criminals' property to be confiscated, he said.

"That way we will hit the mob where it hurts most - their wallets!" he said.

On 23 October a car bomb blast in the capital Zagreb killed Ivo Pukanic, editor of the weekly newspaper Nacional, along with the paper's chief marketing executive, Niko Franic.

Earlier this month, a prominent lawyer's daughter, Ivana Hodak, was shot dead in Zagreb. Her killing prompted Prime Minister Ivo Sanader to replace his ministers of justice and the interior.

"Croatia doesn't need a sabre, but nor does it need an aspirin. It needs a scalpel that cuts deep and with precision," Mr Simonovic said on Wednesday.

The new Interior Minister, Tomislav Karamarko, pledged police reforms, saying: "I'm sure the Croatian police will very soon regain lost trust from citizens."

Special departments will be established at municipal courts in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek to deal with organised crime and corruption cases.

Mr Simonovic also said there would be closer monitoring of communications between prisoners jailed for organised crime and their outside contacts.

Effective action to combat organised crime and corruption is a key condition in Croatia's bid to join the European Union. The European Commission will deliver a progress report on its bid next month. Croatia hopes to join as early as 2010.

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10 Jul 08 |  Country profiles
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10 Jul 08 |  Country profiles

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