by Ivica MARIJACIC
The question was prompted by the recent event in Obrovac in which Obrovac Serb Mile Dragicevic fired from a handgun and seriously wounded the deputy mayor of that town, Mile Karlo Brkic.
Namely, the Police has to have a well-based suspicion that someone possesses unregistered weapons, and only then they are allowed, with a search warrant issued by an investigative magistrate, to conduct a search. In many cases, suspicions are not confirmed at all; that is, no illegal weapons are found; in few cases, weapons are found and confiscated.
A Serb returnee to Zegar near Obrovac, Veljko Zelic (45), who returned to Croatia in 1997, also had unregistered weapons. The Police found in his possession two hand-grenades, a rifle, a knife and ammunition. During the search, the Police confiscated the discovered unregistered weapons, and Zelic claimed that he had no idea that the weapons were in the house.
He will soon have to give an explanation to the municipal state prosecutor in Benkovac, whose jurisdiction includes Obrovac and Benkovac, since the Police are at the moment putting together an indictment against Zelic for illegal possession of arms.
This case provoked speculations that the Serb returnees are supposedly, as a rule armed and, following the rules of street logic, can't wait to use their weapons. As we learned, such speculations are totally unfounded.
The municipal state prosecutor in Benkovac claims that there are no criminal charges for illegal possession of weapons against any individuals of Serb nationality. All criminal charges for that specific crime have been filed against Croats. True, the prosecutor is aware that they are about to file the first charges against a Serb, namely against Zelic from Zegar.
Unregistered weapons, of course, are not necessarily stored in homes, but also in other more convenient spots and the Police, unless it receives specific information about the hiding place, can hardly track them down.
No one has any doubts that a lot of unregistered weapons are still outside control of competent authorities. Unfortunately, that is confirmed by every new murder or a similar tragedy, but there is definitely no evidence that Serb returnees in Benkovac and Obrovac are bringing with them and hiding weapons, claim the officials at the Zadar Police.
The Deputy Police Chief in Zadar, Ivan Brzoja, repeats that the Police does not conduct any raids in search for illegal weapons, but conducts searches with a warrant of an investigative magistrate if there is a well-founded suspicion that an individual possesses unregistered weapons.
In its work, the Police does not pay attention whether the suspect is a Serb or a Croat, states Brzoja. In connection with the recent demand of the Obrovac local authorities that the Police conduct a mass search for hidden weapons in the municipality after a recent attempted murder of the Obrovac deputy mayor, Deputy Chief Brzoja reminds that the Police must respect laws.
The fact that there are still many hidden weapons should not be ignored, of course, but it is dangerous to, on the basis of one case recently discovered in Zegar, speculate that most of Serb returnees are armed.