The re-arrested eight (8) Croatian nationals have been formally slapped with a fresh charge of attempted child trafficking.
And the Zambian authorities have revoked the temporary residence permits granted to the suspects last month.
On Monday, the State discontinued the earlier matter of attempted child trafficking of four children from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) charged on the four couples.
Lawyer representing the Croatians Kelvin Silwimba confirmed that his clients have been charged with attempted child trafficking, the same charges they earlier faced.
The suspects are Damir Magic, Nadia Magic, Subosic Zoran, Azra Immovic Subosic, Ladislav Persic, Aleksandra Persic, Noah Kraljevic and Ivona Kraljevic.
Mr. Silwimba from Zambia National Legal Aid Board said law enforcement officers have recorded warn and caution statements from the suspects.
“Yes I can confirm that officers recorded warn and caution statements from our clients and have been since been charged. Their temporary residence permits have also been taken away,” he said.
He said the eight were apprehended shortly after they purchased their air tickets to leave for their country.
Mr Silwimba said his clients are in custody at Kansenshi Correctional Facility in Ndola.
Department of Immigration Public Relations officer Namati Nshinka earlier confirmed the department received instructions from the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) to have the 8 Croatians re-arrested.
“The Department of Immigration has re-arrested the Eight (8) Croatian nationals Damir Magic, Nadia Magic, Subosic Zoran, Azra Immovic Subosic, Ladislav Persic, Aleksandra Persic, Noah Kraljevic, and Ivona Kraljevic, after the case in which they were alleged to have attempted to traffic Four (4) Congolese children aged between one and three years was on 6th February 2023 discontinued by way of Nolle Prosecqui. The Croatians were on 7th February 2023 re-arrested by Immigration Officers and detained pending prosecution on reconstituted charges but still related to attempted child trafficking. They are likely to re-appear in Court on 9th February 2023,” Mr. Nshinka said.
The eight were arrested at the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe Airport Ndola on 7th December, 2022 on suspicion that they were attempting to traffic four children aged between one and three years old.
Zambian authorities on Monday ordered the eight discharged Croatians to leave the country within 48 hours.
When discontinuing the case, State advocate Mahape Libakeni, who made the application on Monday morning, stated that the matter was discontinued pursuant to section 88(a) of the Criminal Procedure Code chapter 87 of the laws of Zambia.
In response, lawyers from the Legal Aid Board representing the eight Croatian nationals did not object to the application from the state.
Ndola Chief Resident Magistrate Dominic Makalicha in delivering his ruling on the application granted the application with an emphasis that a discharge was not an acquittal.
In this case, it was alleged that on December 7, last year, Damir Magic, an electrical technician and Nadic Magic, a chemical teacher,jointly and while acting together, attempted to traffic a child namely Beatrice Magic.
It was further heard that this was 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
Further, 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.
It was also alleged that Noah Kraljevic, a human rights activist and Ivona Kraljevic, a proxy woman at that country’s national theater, were also alleged to have attempted to traffic a child namely Jean Val Kraljevic within the territorial boundaries of Zambia for the purpose of exploitation.
The Croatian nationals were on 23rd January, 2023 released on bail pending trial.
On 12th January, 2023, Magistrate Makalicha granted bail to eight (8) Croatian nationals charged with the offence of attempted trafficking in four children of Congolese origin on the Zambian territory.
Earlier on 23rd January, 2023 continued trial failed to take off as Magistrate Makalicha was not available.
Monday, 23rd January 2023, was supposed to be the second day of trial and more witnesses were scheduled to testify before Magistrate Makalicha.
Trial in the old case started on January 12 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 on 7th December, 2022 in collaboration with police in Ndola stopped an alleged illegal adoption involving four Congolese children who were destined for Croatia.