8 Croats in court in Zambia on child trafficking charge

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Seven of the eight Croatian nationals charged with attempting to traffic children, outside the magistrates court in Ndola, Zambia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. The 8 have pleaded not guilty to the charge of child trafficking before a magistrate. (AP Photo/Salim Dawood)

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Eight Croatian nationals have pleaded not guilty to charges of child trafficking before a magistrates court in Ndola, Zambia.

They were named in court documents as Damir Magic, 44, Nadica Magic, 45, Zoran Subosic, 52, Azra Imamovic Subosic, 41, Ladislav Persic, 42, Aleksandra Persic, 40, Noah Kraljevic, 45, and Ivona Kraljevic, 46.

The eight pleaded not guilty before magistrate David Makalichi in Ndola, Copperbelt province.

They are defended by a legal aid lawyer, Kelvin Silwimba. The court session was attended by Croatian officials.

In the charges brought before the court, the Croatians are accused of attempting to traffic four named children late last year into Zambia “for the purpose of exploitation.”

Media in Croatia had reported that the detained Croats were four couples and that they included Zoran Subosic, a guitarist for well-known band Hladno Pivo, or Cold Beer.

They said that the children had come from Congo and had been granted Croatian citizenship by courts in Croatia based on allegedly forged documents.

This has prompted Croatia’s Supreme Court to issue a warning to lower courts working on similar cases to check thoroughly any such documents where couples are seeking to adopt children.

The suspects left court after the brief hearing, and boarded a bus to be returned to a detention facility.

The case is expected to continue before the Ndola court, with another hearing on Thursday.

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