Zitiste shooting highlights domestic violence, weapons in Serbia

Serbia was reeling Sunday from the mass shooting in which a jealous husband, armed with an assault rifle, killed his wife and four others, and wounded 20 more.

The killings turned the spotlight back on domestic violence, which is widespread and rarely reported, and massive stockpiles of illegal weaponry in Serbia.

The 38-year-old Sinisa Zlatic went on his rampage early Saturday, after seeing his estranged wife Dijana Zlatic, 30, with other people in a cafe in the northern Serbian town of Zitiste.

He was overpowered apparently only when he had emptied the second magazine of his Kalashnikov.

Zitiste was packed at the time for the regionally popular Chicken Festival and hours after one of Serbia's biggest rock bands, Van Gog, held a concert.

One of the wounded, a young woman, was still fighting for her life. Another person was in a serious condition, the Tanjug state news agency reported.

The head of psychological prevention at the Serbian Interior Ministry, Mirjana Smiljanic, told reporters that psychologists had been assigned to help the population deal with the shock.

"We agreed with the crisis headquarters to put all psychologists in the area at the disposal of the population to assist the citizens," she said.

Zlatic and his wife separated eight months ago and were legally divorcing. While he had no criminal record, Dijana's family said that he was abusive and that she had been terrified of him.

"She ran away from him and returned to us," Dijana's father, Sveta Savanovic, told the daily Blic. "She told us he was violent and couldn't take it anymore."

Savanovic recounted that in court, Zlatic threatened his wife, with whom he has a 9-year-old son, warning her "never to be with another man."

According to unconfirmed media reports, Zlatic's family had a whole arsenal of illegal weapons, which they brought when they arrived as refugees from Croatia and hid in their house.

Quoting police sources, the regional N1 TV said that there are between 200,000 and 900,000 illegal weapons in Serbia, though that figure includes arms from World War II and before.

Despite the prevalence of domestic violence, police only intervene by removing a violent man from the household to protect a woman and children around 70 times per year, activist Tanja Ignjatovic recently told N1.

Last update: Sun, 03/07/2016 - 14:24
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