ZAGREB, CROATIA - Ivo Pukanic and his marketing director Niko Franjic have been killed in an explosion that took place in Zagreb’s Palmoticeva Street at 6:30pm. This was confirmed by the journalist Plamenko Cvitic in a statement for Croatian national television (HRT). Two other people have been injured.
According to the first unofficial information, a bomb placed under Pukanic’s Lexus was in question.
Ivo Pukanic and his marketing director Niko Franjic have been killed in an explosion that took place in Zagreb’s Palmoticeva Street. This was confirmed by the journalist Plamenko Cvitic in a statement for Croatian national television (HRT).
According to the first unofficial information, a bomb exploded under Ivo Pukanic’s Lexus that is registered to the NCL media group.
As we find out from witnesses of the unfortunate event, the dean of the Academy of Visual Arts Dalibor Jelavic, Pukanic and Franic did not even get into the car when it exploded. This is backed up by the fact that Pukanic’s and Franjic’s bodies were laying next to the totally destroyed Luxus.
“I heard a terrible explosion and shaking, at first I thought it was an earthquake, I have not heard anything like it since 1995, when a bomb fell in front of my jewellery shop. Me and my friend immediately came outside and literally after a few minutes the police started to arrive. After that I saw the news and I can only say that I feel sorry for Pukanic, and I also park my car near where the bomb exploded” said the owner of the jewellery shop MM that is in Draskoviceva Street.
At around 7:15 Zagreb’s mayor Milan Bandic arrived at the scene.
Attempted murder in April was a warning
There was already an attempted murder on Pukanic in April this year, in front of the building where he lives.
Remember, according to Pukanic’s words, the assassinator took out his gun and lifted it up, pointing the barrel at his head.
Before firing, Pukanic threw himself on the floor and the fired bullet missed him and ended up in the display of the store “Cmok”. Seeing that he did not finish the job, the attacker cocked the pistol, but according to Pukanic’s account, the weapon jammed.
After that the co owner of the NCL media group got up and started running towards the middle of the footpath and took his pistol out of his backpack and cocked it. When the assassinator saw that Pukanic was armed, he started running down Ilica Street towards Krajisa Street.
Since then he was given police protection that followed him at every moment during the last few months. It is not known where the police were tonight, or if he was still enjoying their protection.
“I heard something a short while ago, but do not know what is in question. I do not know what is happening. Was there a casualty? asked Mirjana Pukanic in a telephone conversation with us. Mirjana Pukanic is the wife of Ivo Pukanic, the co owner of the NCL Media Group.
The telephone conversation occurred after the media published the first news about a bomb in a building in front of the headquarters of Nacional. The co owner of the NCL Medic Group Ivo Pukanic and his colleague the journalist Niko Franic were killed when a bomb was activated underneath Pukanic’s car.
Unfortunately, we were the ones to inform Ivo’s wife about his death.
“Your husband Ivo Pukanic has been killed” we told her.
“I beg your pardon? Ivo killed? I do not believe it. Ivo died? No, that is not the truth.
Mirjana Pukanic: What will be with Sara now?
After that there was a short break. Mirjana did not know what to say to that. She only repeated:
“No, that is not the truth. I cannot believe it. I do not know what to say.
Answering our words of sorrow, as well as disbelief that something like this happened, Mirjana shortly said:
“It is unconceivable to me. We should have had our divorce hearing on December 5. No, I would not wish this on anyone’s life”.
However, the person that is hit in the story the most – the underage daughter of Ivo and Mirjana Pukanic – Sara.
“Jesus, what will be with Sara now? This is really too much, I can no longer do it” she said.
“It is terrible what happened. This says that crime is probably in its strongest rise to date in Croatia. It is certain that this is the first murder of a journalist in Croatia after the Croatian War of Independence. This says that it is high time for a wide and strong operation against crime” said Zdenko Duka, the president of the Croatian Journalists Society.
The vice-president of the Croatian Cabinet Djurdja Adlesic condemned this crime, but had no other comments.
The president of the HHO (Croatian Helsinki Committee) Ivo Banac was caught totally off guard. In the first reaction to the crime he said that they are terrible things for which there are no real words to comment.
“Obviously the situation in the country is getting out of control” said Banac, adding that he was surprised.
When they found out about the murder of Ivo Pukanic, the Croatian president Stjepan Mesic and the vice-president of the Croatian Cabinet Jadranka Kosor immediately left the ceremony at which they were opening new offices for the UN in Croatia, at 41 Radnicka Street.
The president took a look at the new offices that the Cabinet donated to 5 UN agencies, located on the seventh floor of a building, when he suddenly stopped the visit and left, leaving numerous gathered ambassadors and UN representatives.
Sanja Sarnavka, a secure and decisive woman, was shaken for the first time, The news of the assassination of Ivo Pukanic surprised her, even though she and Pukanic never hid that their relationship was not friendly. She briefly said that she cannot believe it.
“Not that I will cry, but this is not normal. In what sort of country do we live? Terrible” said Sarnavka.
She said that the former wife of Ivo Pukanic, Mirjana Pukanic, found out that her husband was killed and is in shock. She is most concerned for the daughter that they have together Sara, who is now alone.
“The little one is in a bad situation, Mirjana will not have to travel to Zagreb” said Sarnavka.
Mirjana called her psychiatrist straight after finding out about the death of her husband.
“No journalist deserves this”
“That is simply too horrible. Monstrous. I am shocked. No journalist and editor deserve that” commented the co owner of EPH Nino Pavic, who was in the press office when he heard the news.
“He was my friend. We have known each other for 20 years. We had good and bad relations, but recently good. I do not know who is behind it, but at first glance it looks likeit was done professionally” said Pavic in a shaky voice.
Pukanic and Pavic worked together in Globus. A few years ago Pavic’s car exploded in front of his house, as a result of a bomb planted in it. He described Pukanic as a big playful child.
“He was playful with cars, iPods, computers… He was very talented, very interesting, a peculiar person that was in love with their job” said Pavic.
Denis Kuljis did not have any comments. Via his wife he stated that he has nothing to comment because he is currently in the intensive care ward of the Rebro hospital.
“Zagreb caught in wave of violence”
Foreign media also reported about the explosion underneath a car in the yard of Nacional. In the attack, the head of Nacional Ivo Pukanic and the journalist Niko Franic were killed.
Reuters reported that one of fatalities was the head of a Croatian weekly newspaper.
Police at the scene of the murder of Ivo Pukanic.
Photo Mario Ćužić
The agency stressed that premier Ivo Sanader recently, after a number of unsolved cases or murder and beatings took place in Zagreb, replaced people in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, in order to make the fight against corruption more efficient.
Zlatko Mehun said for Reuters that this was a shock, catastrophic. He said that all together we need to do something in order to stop the violence. This must stop, said the spokesperson of the Cabinet Zlatko Mehun.
The fight against crime and corruption is key for ending negotiations with the European Union by the end of next year, according to Reuters.
The BBC also reported about the murder if Ivo Pukanic and commented that Zagreb has been caught in a wave of violence recently.
Serbian media also report on assassination of Nacional’s leaders
“At the moment of the explosion, students from the high journalists school were in the building. The windows on the surrounding buildings shattered. It has not yet been determined how much the material damage is” reports the Serbian B92.
“This Is A Message To The World On Croatian Safety”
“This is surely a tragedy which will circle the world and send out a message on the state of security in Zagreb and Croatia. It will take a lot of work for the confidence in safety to be restored – said Josip Friscic, president of the Croatian Peasants` Party (HSS), severely condemning the assassination of Ivo Pukanic and Niko Franic.
Friscic stresses that, as all citizens of Croatia, he was shaken by the tragedy.
“I am convinced and I hope that the police and all who work on this case will soon find the perpetrators” concluded Friscic.
The students of the NCL Group, a private school of journalism, whose students were in the building at the time of the blast, are unharmed. One of the students, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us that “the newspapers are writing nonsense by saying students exited the building bloody”.
“We passed without consequences” said a visibly shaken young man, who did not want to enter the details of what he saw.