Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic on Thursday said that he was sorry because of a scandal involving an arms smuggler flown aboard a helicopter by the Zadar's Zemunik air force base three instructor pilots who have been in the meantime suspended and announced sanctions for all responsible persons.
"I'm sorry. Something that isn't normal has been done. A probe will disclose who is responsible and the Croatian Army will punish all those in the line of command, including those who failed to act responsibly in this case," Krsticevic said.
Krsticevic apologised on behalf of the Croatian Army over the scandal which was broken by the Nova TV commercial broadcaster on Wednesday evening.
The TV reported that three airforce instructor pilots had been suspended and were under investigation because they transported a civilian disguised in a pilot's uniform and who is suspected of smuggling arms in an airforce helicopter.
Krsticevic said that "every violation has a name and surname," and the Croatian Army has zero tolerance to conduct in contravention to military standards.
He added that he was informed of the incident two weeks ago however, he did not wish to divulge this information to the public to avoid influencing the investigation with his actions.
"The investigation is still ongoing. After becoming aware (of the incident) I ordered the commander to submit a report about the entire case. I have convened a task force to analyse the entire situation by 2 December and to recommend measures that need to be taken to deal with incidents of this nature," he said.
President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces has been informed of the situation. Her office has said that the president expects that all the relevant facts are promptly determined in that case and that all illegal actions be appropriately penalised.