Zambia grants eight Croatians bail in child trafficking case
The four Croatian couples are accused of trying to traffic four infants from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Eight Croatians facing child trafficking charges in Zambia were granted bail on Tuesday following their rearrest last week while trying to leave the Southern African nation.
The charges allege that on December 7 last year, the four couples acted together with a Zambian immigration official to try to traffic four children from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The group said they legally adopted the children aged between one and three years old but Zambian authorities have accused them of trafficking the minors.
The prosecution had opposed the bail application, arguing that the eight were flight risks.
But magistrate Jennipher Bwalya said nothing excluded them from seeking bail if all conditions were met.
“I am inclined to grant the application as there is nothing in the law that stops foreigners from being granted bail,” Bwalya said on Tuesday in the northern city of Ndola, 300 kilometres (180 miles) north of the capital Lusaka.
They were ordered to pay 20,000 kwacha (about $1,000) each in bail fees and offer two sureties from reputable organisations.
The trial is set to commence on March 1. Nothing has been said in court about the whereabouts or status of the children.
The Croatians facing charges include Zoran Subosic, 52, a guitarist in a well-known band Hladno Pivo, or Cold Beer, Immovic Subosic, 41, an administrator, Damir Magic, 44, an electrical technician, Nadic Magic, 45, a technician, Ladislav Persic, 42, a medical doctor, Aleksandra Persic, 43, a hair salon attendant, Noah Kraljevic, 40, a programme director, and Uvona Kraljevic, 36, a dog handler. Zambian immigration official Gloria Sakulenga, 36, is also facing the charges.
The case has sparked a fierce public debate in Croatia and thrust international adoption into the spotlight in the Balkan nation, where potential adopters vastly outnumber eligible children.