Australian TV angers Dubrovnik

On 17 September 2008 the Australian girl Britt Lapthorne went missing in Dubrovnik. She was last seen in Club Fuego, a night club in Dubrovnik, a bit after midnight. Three weeks later her body was found in the sea. Since that day Croatian and Australian media have been speculating about the cause of here disappearance and death. Croatian police haven't found a murderer and a Croatian autopsy found no evidence of violence. A second post-mortem examination, performed in Australia, failed to determine the cause of death too.
The case seemed to have reached a dead end. But this week Australian Channel Seven aired a report on Britt Lapthorne's death. According to Channel Seven's investigation there is a "pattern of criminal activity in Dubrovnik". Several non-Croatian girls have fallen victim to abduction or abduction attempts, both before and after Britt's disappearance. The abductors pretended they were police and ordered the girls to step into a van.
One girl did step into the car, but managed to jump out of it when she realized the men were no police at all. About a year ago she reported the abduction to the Croatian police. Despite that, a Croatian officer initially denies to Channel Seven that there are any reports of abductions in Dubrovnik. A moment later he has to admit there are two reports of abductions. You can see the program on YouTube (part 1-7, in total about 30 minutes) or read a summary in The Australian.
An American expert made a forensic sketch of one suspect, based on what one girl, named Amber, saw that night. So, who is this guy?
A Croatian cop!
According to Croatian police, the men that approached Amber did not pretend they were police, they were police. As The Daily Telegraph wrote: Croatian police last night confirmed the men that approached Amber afterwards were officers. But they said the officers were trying to help after hearing of a disturbance. "He is a police officer but he was there on duty," police spokesman Krunoslav Borovec said of the sketch of a blond man. "He and his colleagues heard something was going on, some noise, so they ran to help her."
Why would Amber blame an honest Croatian cop who tried to help her? What's behind all this? Croatian police know the answer: "It's an attempt to trash the tourist season."
I have heard a great number of Croatian conspiracy theories, but this beats everything. However, it is not unlike the general opinion in Croatia about Britt's case. Vladimir Faber, spokesman for the police, said that the abduction story is simply made-up. On TV and in newspapers citizens of Dubrovnik air their opinions. A pensioner said to Jutarnji list: "Dubrovnik is one of the safest towns in Croatia. I don't know why they are doing this to us."
There is even a Facebook group with over 5.000 members to show the world that Dubrovnik is a safe place. Rather sad, if you ask me. I know Dubrovnik is a safe place, but that doesn't mean something like a murder can't happen.
At the end of the day, we still don't know what happened to Britt and who the men in the van are. Real of fake cops? Criminals or police that tried to assist foreign backpackers?
To be continued.

2 reacties:

Paul C said...

The way the Croatian police dealt with the murder case itself was terrible - at the very least, they mishandled the public information (including the information that went to the family) and at worst they fumbled the investigation itself as they attempted to safeguard Dubrovnik's reputation.

I realise that there was political pressure, and that the citizens of Dubrovnik want to protect their livelihoods, but why does nobody realise that the best way to ensure Dubrovnik's reputation as a safe place to visit was to show that the police are competent, rather than to deny that these things happen, or that if they happen the victims must be malicious or stupid?

Boris Levalle said...

I agree. Saying that "such things don't happen here" is to deny that terrible things can happen everywhere. Especially in a over-crowded town as Dubrovnik is in summer.
There seems to be another case, of a dead Slovenian girl who disappeared in Dubrovnik, that might be linked to Britt Lapthorne's case. You can read more on http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25082165-12377,00.html