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Croatia justice minister proposes special courts to try organized crime cases

[JURIST] Croatia's recently appointed Justice Minister Ivan Simonovic [official profile, in Croatian] on Wednesday proposed [text, DOC, in Croatian] a set of legal reforms intended to combat the country's organized crime problem. In an address to the Croatian parliament [official website], Simonovic suggested establishing special courts to try organized crime and corruption suspects in the cities of Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek. Other proposed measures included improving witness protection methods, expanding property seizure rules, and restricting the communication access of incarcerated organized criminals. BBC News has more.

Combating organized crime is a major requirement for the former Yugoslav republic's accession to the European Union (EU) [government website]. While improvements were noted in a 2007 progress report [text, PDF], a recent rise in violence could cast a shadow on the 2008 report due out next month. Last week Ivo Pukanic, the founder and editor-in-chief of the outspoken newsmagazine Nacional [media website] was killed in a car explosion [AP report] blamed on criminal elements. Simonovic took over as justice minister in early October after Ivana Hodak, the daughter of a prominent Zagreb lawyer who is defending retired Croatian General Vladimir Zagorec against corruption charges, was shot to death [Sky report] outside her home, prompting Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader to fire the then-incumbent.

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