Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic strongly condemned the attack on a journalist in a church in a Split suburb on Sunday, saying that she was attacked only for doing her job.
"The reporter was assaulted at a church on the biggest Christian holiday only because she was trying to do her job," he said at a press conference, adding that the police were taking action.
He said that, according to reports from local news websites, about 20 believers gathered in the church in Sirobuje despite a ban on such gatherings for epidemiological reasons and that local authorities were notified.
According to those reports, the journalist was pushed away, her mobile phone which she used for streaming the gathering was taken away and her arm was pinned with the church door.
Bozinovic said police had also initiated a criminal investigation into two men arrested for assaulting and injuring the journalist. They were arrested for using force against a person doing a job of public interest and for damaging another person's property, he added.
The minister said the situation after a previous gathering in the church in question had calmed down and that the police did not know that another Mass would be celebrated at 10 a.m. today.
He said he had asked the head of the Split-Dalmatia County civil protection authority to prevent more gatherings there, and that the police would do their job about today's incident. Believers started gathering at the church in question also on Palm Sunday but dispersed after the police asked them to return home.
The Sirobuje parish priest, Josip Delas, told Hina on that occasion that he had asked the faithful to come to Mass because he felt that they could stand two metres apart from each other, as ordered by the national civil protection authority.
The Split-Dalmatia Archdiocese today apologised for the behaviour of Delas who, despite the ban, celebrated Easter Mass, and distanced itself from his statements and views.
It said in a press release that the attack on the journalist did not contribute to a Christian celebration of Easter and apologised to "everyone who was shocked by Father Josip's conduct."
The journalist who was attacked was Zivana Susak Zivkovic of the Dalmatinski Portal website. An unidentified person hit her on the arm, causing her to drop the mobile on which she was recording Mass.
A liitle more than ten believers were in the church and stood apart.
According to journalists who were there, the person who hit Susak Zivkovic and Delas hurled insults at them.
As he celebrating Mass on Palm Sunday despite the ban on religious gatherings because of COVID-19, Delas verbally attacked and cursed at a police officer in plainclothes, for which he was charged with a misdemeanour.