06/26/03 Murder in Karlovac
On the occasion of a sickening murder of a dog in Karlovac, Animal Friends demands an urgent solution of the proceedings and a suitable punishment for the committed crime
"There you have your innocent animal!" he said after shooting the dog's legs and then its head
A couple of days ago, a shocking letter arrived on our address. We left the letter as it was, untouched, so that you could live through the pain, fear and sadness of a citizen of Karlovac, who, without having any presentiments of a disaster that would happen that day, went for a walk with her dog, Dart.
Animal Friends has decided to plead for this case and present it to the public through the media, as well as to take all actions necessary to investigate the case and punish the perpetrator of the crime adequately, regardless of their reputation and power. We have already contacted the state attorney so that this case wouldn't end up forgotten.
There have already been too many cases of murdered dogs and cats in which the hunters have extricated themselves due to Article 54 of the Hunting Law, even though the law says that they should first try to chase the animal away, then catch it, and in case neither of the previous steps succeed, it can be killed. The hunters, however, have misused the law a lot and used to kill animals as they pleased. By doing so, they have often jeopardized lives of people standing near the animals. They would kill animals outside the hunting district, often in populated areas, or even in the backyards of the animals' owners.
Animal Friends has asked for the Article mentioned above to be changed on a several occasions, but nothing has ever been done about it. This doesn't surprise us because of the fact that people authorized for the matter of hunting in the Ministry of Agriculture and forestry, are hunters. Croatian and the world public are shocked by the policy of Croatian government that used to ignore all similar cases of cruelty towards animals, regardless of hundreds of protests organized by various organizations, Croatian and foreign, and individuals. The case we are talking about is just one more in a long line of sick tortures of animals.
"I'll try to tell you the whole story in a chronological order and with as much details as possible. On 06/19/2003, somewhere between 9 and 9:40 A.M., I was taking the usual walk with my pet Dart, a two-year old American Stafford terrier in the wood Kozjaca in Karlovac. When we passed by a hunting cottage, after walking for approximately 30 meters, we met a man in civilian clothes carrying a shotgun on his shoulder, accompanied by two minor girls, that, I assumed, were his daughters. I put Dart on a leash and when I reached the man, he said that I wasn't allowed to go to the wood with a dog because the area was a hunting district. I answered him that the reason we weren't allowed there was because the dog would get killed like all the other innocent animals. This took place while I was passing by them. When we went our separate ways, I let Dart off the leash and turned back and the person had already had a shotgun pointed at my dog, that was standing approximately 1 meter ahead of me, and shot him. The person was standing some 20 meters apart from me and the children were right behind him, watching the whole thing. First bullet hit Dart in his back legs which made him fall on the ground whimpering, and right after that, another bullet hit him in the head, and the person said. 'There you have your innocent animal.' At that point, the children are starting to cry and run away, and he goes after them. I'm trying to carry the dog on my hands, assuming that I might still be able to save him, but, a few moments later, I am falling down with no more strength, and in pain. I am screaming, crying and after a while, a man comes and lends me his cell-phone so that I can call my dad and brother. The man helps me pick up Dart once again, but I can no longer carry him. I am sitting an path by my dog that then dies. The pain I was going through at the moment was so strong that I felt as if my heart would break into pieces. The man goes to my family to bring them to me and after that two game-keepers are coming, drawn by my screaming. They said that they hadn't heard any shooting, which proves that the perpetrator was carrying a small-bore rifle that's used for poaching because it's very silent. They also said that they hadn't met anyone on the way, most probably because the person had already escaped to the woods the area he was very familiar with. According to the game-keepers, nobody except the three of them (the third one stayed at the hunting cottage), was allowed to be armed in the woods that day. After that my brother and dad are coming, and my brother runs away hoping to find the perpetrator. One of the game-keepers goes to get a shovel and they send me to go wash myself because I had blood all over me. They buried my dog. When I came home, I called the police and told them the whole story, and even the witness came to confirm what he had seen. The police officer told me that the case was very serious because my life was put at risk, but now is when the drama starts. All information on the perpetrator are known: his name is Dubravko Halovanic, he is a hunter, owns a rifle, and has kids the age of those I saw (one six-years-old and the other twelve) and he is a retired cardinal brigadier in Karlovac. He gave a statement to the police saying that he had killed the dog because he thought the dog would attack him, which was far from the truth. After my friend's mum made a fuss, I was called up by the police and they asked me if I wanted to press charges against the perpetrator. My answer was - absolutely. The only thing I can do is bring charge against him for material damage and dispossessing of belongings, and as far as the experienced fear is concerned, I cannot do anything about it because I am just a regular citizen of this city and because of that I can be bothered in any way certain people please. The person who committed this crime has a lot of influence in Karlovac, is protected by law and nobody can do anything about it, but it is only a question of time when he will repeat a similar action or, God forbid, kill a human being just because of look askance. I am still shocked and have to take sedatives so that I could sleep.
"I ask myself what kind of a person is this that can commit such an act in front of his children. A lawyer I turned to for help has refused to take the case after hearing who the person I was pressing charges against was. Allegedly, the perpetrator has a cousin in the state attorney in The Court of Karlovac, so, most probably, the whole case will be dismissed, and the offender will continue to walk around freely and shoot whoever he feels like shooting. All I know is that if he had missed Dart, he would've shot me, which, at the moment, I would prefer more than having him killed. One more thing: when I went to the police station the second time and asked if the person was found and if anything was solved, I got a negative answer, which was a lie. Apparently, the policeman who wanted to solve everything in a legal way was threatened with a notice of dismissal from his job. That's about it. If I have let something out, you can call me, I am ready to answer any question because I know I'm telling the truth. I would like to thank you for contacting me and I shall join your organization in order to help other people in preventing the same thing happening to them. Thank you one more time for your help because any kind of support is more than welcome."
Renata Potlacek, Karlovac
What more is there left to say after all this?! Is it possible that these kind of people exist and that tomorrow this person will be free to walk along the streets?!? To carry a rifle again and kill?
Animal Friends and Miss Potlacek are seeking justice. We demand a punishment for the perpetrator of this crime. The world public will be informed about this case in order to see what the attitude towards animals in our country is like, how the victims are threatened, how the perpetrators of the crimes end up, and how they, due to their influence and power in the community, tend to elude punishment.