The eight (8) Croatian nationals charged with the offence of attempted trafficking in four children of Congolese origin on the Zambian territory are still remanded in custody seven days after being granted bail.
This is because the four couples are yet to meet all their bail conditions stimulated by Ndola Chief Resident Magistrate Dominic Makalicha last Thursday.
The suspects shall surrender their passports to Zambian authorities, appear before police after two weeks and legalise their stay in Zambia as part of the bail conditions.
The Croatians are yet to legalise their stay in Zambia following the expiry of their entry visas into Zambia as they were in custody.
The Department of Immigration has denied granting an extension of visas to the four Croatian couples accused of attempting to traffic four children from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The couples have been requested to instead apply and pay for their temporary residence permits.
The Department of Immigration says it does not extend days for people in custody.
Copperbelt Province Department of Immigration regional officer Stewart Chiyayika said in response to a letter written by Legal Aid Board lawyer Kelvin Silwimba requesting for an extension of their visas.
Mr Chiyayika urged Mr Silwimba to adhere to the legal provisions as outlined under Section 57(1) of the Immigration and Deportation Act.
“Following the request from the eight Croatians who are currently in custody and were on January 12, 2023, granted bail by the Honourable Magistrate, I wish to state that as the Department of Immigration, we do not extend days to persons who are in custody. Further, these individuals despite being charged under the Anti-Human Trafficking Act have no valid immigration status and the only option is to be placed on temporary permits or remain in custody. Therefore, we cannot extend their days, but instead you are advised to adhere to legal provisions as outlined under Section 57(1) of the Immigration and Deportation Act,” Mr Chiyayika said.
On Friday last week, Mr Silwimba representing Noah Kraljevic, Ivona Kraljevic, Zoran Subosic, Azra Imamovic Subosic, Nadica Magic, Damir Magic, Ladislav Persic and Aleksandra Persic requested for an extension of visas for his clients.
Mr Silwimba said the request for the extension of the visas is to necessitate the suspects stay in Zambia pending trial.
“Take further notice that their failure to have their visas renewed after their seven days expired was not intentional or by their own doing as on the date of their being apprehended being the seventh day of December 2022, the same were still valid,” reads the letter in part.
Mr Silwimba contends that his clients’ failure to renew their visas was not caused by the applicants themselves but by the institution’s refusal to do so.
He expressed worry saying the decision by the department to refuse granting an extension of his client’s visas is an illegality.
Meanwhile, trial in this case started last Thursday in the Ndola Magistrate’s Court with three witnesses testifying during a three-hour long court session.
On 10th January, 2023, the eight suspects pleaded not guilty to the offence of attempted trafficking in four children of Congolese origin on the Zambian territory.
The Immigration Department last month in collaboration with police in Ndola stopped an alleged illegal adoption involving four Congolese children who were destined for Croatia.
Particulars of the offence are that Damir Magic aged 44 and seven others on 7th December 2022 in Ndola on the Copperbelt Province jointly and whilst acting together did attempt to traffic a child namely Beatrice Magic within the territorial boundaries of Zambia for the purpose of exploitation.
In count two, another couple namely, Subosic Zoran, a musician and Immovic Subosic, a Constitutional Court administrator, on the same date attempted to traffic a child namely Mariella Kalinde Immovic Subosic within the territorial boundaries of Zambia for the purpose of exploitation.
Ladislav Persic, a veterinary doctor and Aleksandra Persic, a dog beauty stylist on December 7, this year allegedly attempted to traffic a child namely Jona Asnate within the territorial boundaries of Zambia for the purpose of exploitation.
Noah Kraljevic, a human rights activist and Ivona Kraljevic, a proxy woman at that country’s national theater, are also alleged to have attempted to traffic a child namely Jean Val Kraljevic.
The case has been adjoined to 23rd January, 2023 for continued trial.
The four children in question are being kept by the social welfare department at a facility in Ndola.