FM: Croats in Zambia plead not guilty, hearing moved to Thursday

NEWS 10.01.202312:22

Eight Croatian nationals detained on suspicion of human trafficking pleaded not guilty at arraignment in a court in Zambia on Tuesday, but the hearing was postponed for Thursday, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman said on Tuesday.

The eight Croats were arrested and detained on suspicion concerning the authenticity of the documents on the adoption of four children from DR Congo. They appeared in court in the Zambian city of Ndoli on Tuesday, but their hearing was postponed.

“We found out that the hearing was postponed until Thursday. Today’s arraignment started with a slight delay with occasional adjournments due to technical reasons. All the accused were supposed to participate in the hearing in a language they understood, so it prolonged the hearing a bit,” Grlic-Radman told reporters.

The minister said that the indictment was read to them. “They pleaded not guilty. Their defense attorney asked that they be released on bail, so we are waiting for Thursday, which will bring news,” he added.

The four couples from Croatia were arrested in early December in Zambia on suspicion of human trafficking. An official at the Croatian embassy visited them several times. He also tried to visit the children who were taken over by the social services, but he was prevented from visiting them.

Grlic-Radman said the Croatian citizens “are accused of attempted child trafficking, which needs to be proven.”

“The Croatia Foreign Ministry wants the Zambian authorities to treat them in detention humanely, to provide them with food and medicine and everything that is necessary, all the conditions recognised by the convention. This is our concern, but we cannot go into the merits of the case,” Grlic-Radman said, reiterating that his ministry did not participate in any procedure regarding the adoption of Congolese children.