Following an attempted murder of a policeman in St. Mark's Square, where the buildings housing the government and the parliament are located, President Zoran Milanovic on Monday said that the current accessibility of the square was unacceptable and he urged higher security.
“The highest state institutions are there, it should not be a tourist destination, those institutions should be appropriately protected,” Milanovic said in a comment on the incident in which a 22-year-old man shot and wounded the policeman and later committed suicide in a nearby street.
Milanovic called on the government to protect St. Mark’s Square in an appropriate way, adding that “the only way to prevent incidents (like this one) is to physically prevent them.”
Asked by reporters whether he suggested the square should be made accessible only to people who work and live there, the president said that the issue should be addressed by professionals and that it was also a matter of common sense.
He said that he had phoned Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic around 11 a.m. and they concluded that a meeting of the Council for National Security would not be convened.
Milanovic went on to say that there had always been and would be acts of violence and called on the government, the police and the Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA) to control the amount and dispersion of firearms which citizens possess illegally.
“The firearm used in the incident this morning is usually used by the Croatian Army, and such firearms must not be part of anyone’s privately owned weapons. In that regard, the government, the police and SOA enjoy my support,” the president said.
PM: We’ll step up security, minister of interior not responsible
PM Andrej Plenkovic has said that the circumstances and reason for an attempt to kill a police officer working as a government security guard, which occurred on Monday morning, are being investigated, that security measures will be reexamined and that the minister of the interior is not responsible.
“This is evidently an incident for which we lack sufficient information for a more serious analysis. Police and prosecutors will establish if this was an act by a single person. Judging from available information, I would say that it was. But it is too early to comment in greater detail,” he said.
The PM said that since a protest outside the government building in early September, when a van carrying watermelons was unloaded there by member of the European Parliament Ivan Vilibor Sincic, who by doing so wanted to point to the poor status of farmers, security had been stepped up.
“We have had a culture of openness for years in Croatian democracy. St. Mark’s Square, where state institutions are located, is accessible by everyone… under the current regime, public gatherings are allowed but today’s incident is a new situation and it is likely to prompt new analyses of security,” he said.
He said that he did not think the shooting had anything to do with Sincic’s performance.
There is freedom of movement in St. Mark’s Square and people passing by can carry anything they want in their bags, he said.
“Unfortunately, that is a problem,” he said, announcing that security measures would be stepped up.
Answering a reporter’s question, he said that he did not think that there was any responsibility on the part of Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic.
“There is no responsibility on his part. I can see that media have already started asking questions… No. This is a very clear answer, now and for the next four years,” said Plenkovic.