Zagreb Condemns Attack on Belgrade Sportsmen in Croatia
Anja Vladisavljevic | Zagreb | BIRN | February 11, 2019
Zagreb officials condemned an attack on three Red Star Belgrade water polo players in the coastal city of Split - one of whom jumped into the sea to escape his assailants.
The Croatian government and President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic on Sunday condemned the attack on three players from Red Star Belgrade’s Water Polo Club in the southern coastal city of Split the previous day.
“We condemn the incident in the strongest terms. It is unacceptable from every aspect,” Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic told a press conference on Sunday, stressing that the police had promptly responded to the attack.
“Hooliganism is a plague that is contrary to the ideals of sport, and all violence is unacceptable,” Grabar Kitarovic wrote on Twitter.
Police arrested three of the attackers on Sunday morning and were looking for two others. Police said on Monday that their investigation showed that two 25-year-old men and a 23-year-old man tried to physically hurt or seriously injure the health of three foreign nationals, motivated by hatred, using force and bladed weapons. One of those arrested was released on Monday.
Serbia sent a diplomatic protest note to Croatia on Sunday, expressing “deep concern and disappointment” over the incident.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday that this was just one in a series of anti-Serb incidents in Croatia.
“Why this is happening so much there I am not certain or at least, I certainly hope that this would not happen in Belgrade,” Vucic said.
The three Red Star water polo players were attacked on the waterfront promenade in Split on Saturday afternoon.
Two of the players managed to run away while the other escaped by jumping into the sea.
“I’m from Kotor, I’m a Montenegrin, I’m not a Serb!” screamed the player from the sea, Slobodna Dalmacija newspaper reported.
A group of locals then helped the player out of the water.
Police said that they offered medical assistance to the young man who jumped into the sea, but he turned it down.
“He doesn’t have visible injuries for now. We took him to the hotel and conducted an interview there An investigation is underway,” police spokesperson Zeljka Radosevic told Hina news agency.
According to unconfirmed reports, the attackers were apparently provoked by the fact that the three players wore the Red Star Belgrade team’s jerseys.
The Belgrade players were in Split for a match with local team Mornar. The match was cancelled after the incident.
Asked whether the attack would be treated as an act of hooliganism or a hate crime, Interior Minister Bozinovic said the police will decide on this together with the State Attorney’s Office.