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Details of a successful police operation, involving the arrest of two persons suspected of killing a missing Italian citizen, were presented at a press conference held today.

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Photo: The results of the investigation were presented by Dr Jurij Ferme, Director of the Uniformed Police Directorate (middle), Milovan Ipavec, Head of Nova Gorica PD's Criminal Police Division (second from right), Iztok Pereni─Ź, Assistant Head of Koper PD's Criminal Police Division, Zoran Mandi─Ź, Commander of Republika Srpska's Criminal Police Directorate (far left), and Mario Bo, Head of Mobile Police Team from Trieste (second from left)    

 

The UPD-led operation included a successful search in Slovenia, excellent inter-state flow of information, and an exemplary example of a suspect arrest action.

A 58-year-old citizen from Trieste, Italy, was reported missing on 21 June 2011, as a result of which the Trieste police requested Slovenia's assistance through Koper PD's Criminal Police Division.

The Italian citizen is said to have left home in order to sell his Mercedes SW. The Slovenian police obtained some relevant information from Italian law enforcement agencies (concerning an alleged buyer for the car and a woman accompanying him, the use of the missing person's bank card in Slovenia on 21 June, his telephone calls, and the names of people who potentially had contact with him that day).

By collecting information in the areas of Se┼żana, Nova Gorica and Novo Mesto, the police established that the missing Italian and his car had been recorded on the morning of 19 June 2011 at a Se┼żana service station. He was accompanied by a man thought to be the buyer of the car. Records also show that two suspects tried to use the Italian's bank card in different places that same day.

This information was communicated to the Croatian and Bosnian police. The Croatian authorities reported that a metal grey Mercedes with Italian licence plates had entered Croatia on the evening of 19 June at Obre┼żje/Bregana and left the country at Slavonski Brod/Bosanski Brod. It was established that the driver and the woman accompanying him were citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Furthermore, the Slovenian police ascertained that the suspect had been a temporary resident and employee in the Nova Gorica area. Previously, he had worked for a sole trader based in the Gorizia region, and then moved to Italy.

In line with court warrants, the police analysed a sequence of mobile phone calls made from both the suspect and the missing man, which led them closer to the whereabouts of the victim. Since the victim's mobile phone was last connected to the Opatje Selo base station on 19 June 2011, on 8 July the Nova Gorica police assisted by Ljubljana and Novo Mesto PDs thoroughly searched the area, including Opatje Selo, Nova Vas, Lokavica and a gravel road leading to and surrounding Cerje Hill (known as the Napoleon route). A male corpse was found at the foot of Cerje Hill shortly after the launch of the investigation. An investigating judge from Nova Gorica District Court and a state prosecutor from Nova Gorica District State Prosecutor's Office arrived at the scene of the crime. The investigating judge conducted an inspection of the crime scene and requested a forensic autopsy to be carried out on the victim, which was performed on 9 July 2011 by the National Institute of Forensic Medicine. The results confirmed the identity of the missing Italian citizen as well as the violent nature of his death.

The corpse found and the evidence collected served as a basis for a criminal complaint for manslaughter under paragraphs 2 and 4 of Article 116 of the Slovenian Penal Code. The complaint was filed with Nova Gorica District State Prosecutor's Office on 9 July 2011 against a 29-year-old Bosnian male and a 28-year-old Bosnian female, both with permanent residences in Doboj.

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The search operation was based on an intensified exchange of information between the law enforcement authorities of Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, which is where the two suspects escaped to. The investigating judge from Nova Gorica District Court issued European and international arrest warrants, as well as a request for international legal assistance in criminal matters addressed to the judicial authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Both suspects were apprehended on 11 July 2011 in Montenegro. The Montenegrin police conducted house searches and placed the suspects in extradition detention.

House searches were also carried out by the Bosnian police following the suspects' arrest; a stolen scrap car was seized. Forensic and other activities related to the collection of evidence are still ongoing in all the countries concerned.

The excellent cooperation that exists between the Slovenian, Italian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin police again confirmed that crime is tackled more effectively if resources are pooled.