Government agrees settlement with lone survivor of Kornat disaster

Government agrees settlement with lone survivor of Kornat disaster

Government agrees settlement with lone survivor of Kornat disaster Izvor: Dusko Jaramaz/PIXSELL

Croatian government reached a settlement on Wednesday with Frane Lucic, the sole survivor of a 2007 tragedy in which 12 firefighters were killed putting out a wildfire on the uninhabited Kornat island, under which Lucic will get close to 5.5 million kuna (€741,700) and a monthly allowance of 5,000 kuna (€675).

Frane Lucic, a firefighter from the central Dalmatian town of Tisno, is the single survivor of the infamous incident when a routine operation to put out a wildfire that had erupted on the uninhabited island of Kornat went wrong. Out of the thirteen firefighters who had been airlifted by a helicopter to the scene of the fire in August 2007, six were killed soon after touching ground, and another six were severely burned and later died in hospital. The incident became the largest peacetime disaster in modern Croatia.

Former local county fire commander Drazen Slavica was the only person put on trial for negligence leading to the disaster, and was acquitted in the first trial in 2013. The Supreme Court later quashed the verdict and ordered a re-trial, but Slavica was again acquitted in late April 2018.

In a separate case, Lucic, who was 23 at the time of the incident, had filed a lawsuit against the city of Sibenik and Croatia, seeking damages for the massive third-degree burns and injuries he sustained in the event.

Earlier this month, the court finally handed him victory, and ordered the city and the government to pay Lucic some 1.75 million kuna (236,500) in damages, to cover his previous and future disability-related costs, and compensate him for lost income.

However, the latest court ruling has been appealed by the Zagreb state prosecutor, on grounds of procedural errors. The appeal then prompted a protest of some two dozen local firefighters in Lucic's hometown of Tisno last week, who demanded that the government drops the appeal and agrees to compensate Lucic.

The state will also pay Lucic an additional 442,000 kuna (€60,000) for litigation costs.

(€1 = 7.40 kuna)

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