Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Lusaka-based Congolese man charged with attempted child trafficking in case involving four Croatian couples.


A Lusaka based Congolese man has become the latest suspect in the attempted child trafficking case involving four children also of Congolese descent who were allegedly adopted by four Croatian couples.

Steven Mulija, 43, who is in the hospitality business, has since pleaded not guilty to four counts of attempted child trafficking.

“I understand the charges, but deny all the charges,” he said.

This follows a failed attempt to allegedly traffic the children who among them was an infant after they were curtailed at the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport before they were about to be flown out of Zambia.

The attempt led to the arrest of four couples among them, 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 and Aleksandra Persic, 43, a hair salon attendant.

Others are Noah Kraljevic, 40, a programme director and Uvona Kraljevic 36, a dog handler.

Later after court appearances, the eight were discharged and arrested.

The Immigration Department further implicated their senior officer, Gloria Sakulenga, 36 who was also arrested and charged with the same offence.

On Wednesday 5th April 2023, a Congolese man based in Zambia, who is suspected to be the mastermind behind the alleged offence, was also brought to court.

In count one, it is alleged that between December 2 and 7, Mulija, acting with others unknown, allegedly 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, Mulija, 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.

Further, Mulija 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 Mulija is also alleged to have attempted to traffic a child namely Jean Val Kraljevic within the territorial boundaries of Zambia for the purpose of exploitation.

When the matter came up before Ndola Chief resident Magistrate Dominic Makalicha,Mulija who appeared unrepresented by any lawyer denied all the charges.

Magistrate Makalicha adjourned the matter to April 20, this year for commencement of trial.

And while being whisked away from court by officers from the Department of Immigration, Mulija appeared calm while in handcuffs.

In February this year, the State filed a notice of motion to have the matter heard in the High Court stating that the matter involving the eight Croatians has garnered widespread attention at local and international level adding that it would be suitable that the matter be heard before the High Court.

In an affidavit in support of the originating notice of motion filed in the Ndola High Court, assistant immigration officer Kombe Sakeni said it is inevitable that the laws of Croatia and the DRC will be a point of consideration during the hearing of the trial.

Mr Sakeni further contended that if the order was granted, it will be to the general convenience of the parties and will not prejudice the accused persons.

“I am reliably informed by counsel that this court is clothed with the jurisdiction to hear this application and that this is a proper matter in which this honourable court can exercise its jurisdiction to order that the respondents be committed to trial before itself,” he said.

Their trial is expected to commence in the High Court in due course.

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