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Zambia Rearrests Four Croatian Couples in Child Adoption Case


Vuk Tesija Zagreb  BIRN

Four Croatian couples were arrested for a second time at an airport in Zambia on suspicion of child trafficking after coming to adopt four children from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Eight Croats were arrested for a second time on Tuesday at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola, the third largest city in Zambia, after coming to the country to pick up four children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year to adopt.

They were initially arrested on December 9 last year at the airport in Ndola as they attempted to leave the country with the children and accused of attempted child trafficking.

But the court in Ndola dismissed the indictment against the eight Croats, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman told reporters on January 6.

On Monday they were ordered to leave Zambia within 48 hours, Croatian news agency HINA reported.

However, at the airport they were arrested again, Justice Minister Ivan Malenica confirmed on Tuesday.

“In communication with the lawyer, we found out that they are being charged with the same charges as the first time, and they were arrested again. This is an unusual and strange situation,” said Malenica.

Vinko Ljubicic, director of the Directorate for Consular Affairs, part of the Foreign Ministry, told Index.hr that a Croatian ambassador will try to find out why they were detained at the airport again.

“What we know so far is that their passports were returned, and they passed control at the airport and were about to board. Then the migration officer appeared and told them that she could not let them go. They are being kept there. What happens next, we don’t know,” said Ljubicic.

The case of the four Croatian couples who went to Zambia to adopt the children has been captured the attention of the media for two months.

They arrived in Zambia with proper documents and Croatian passports for the children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But they were arrested and became the subjects of a two-month court case, most of which they spent in detention.

Although the case is now over, questions remain as to what will happen to the children, who are now Croatian citizens.

“Our next step is to take care of and provide consular protection to children who have Croatian documents,” Foreign Minister Grlic Radman said on Monday.

But he added that there is no information about the children’s whereabouts.

“Despite all our efforts, we were unable to reach them… They have Croatian documents and therefore we consider them Croatian citizens,” Grlic Radman said.

The Croatian ambassador from Pretoria in South Africa has not managed to visit the children.

“Our colleague asked for [access], but it depends on the authorities,” said Grlic Radman.

The process of adopting children in Croatia is lengthy, so some couples decide to adopt from other countries.

2023 Feb 27