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

More from Balkan

Serbia and Slovenia to hold joint govt meeting

A joint meeting of the governments of Serbia and Slovenia is scheduled for Monday in Belgrade, says a a press...

800 victims from Huda Jama mass grave to be reburied in Maribor

Remains of about 800 victims unearthed from the disused Slovenian mine of Huda Jama, one of the largest multiple...

Slovenia erecting panel fence along Croatia border

Slovenia started putting up a metal panel fence at its biggest border crossing with Croatia, Bregana-Obrezje, on...

Dodik to abandon EU path if Bosnian Serb entity sanctioned for referendum

The President of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Serb entity Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, on Friday threatened that the...

Serbia will not increase accommodation capacity for migrants

Serbia has been given additional funds by the European Union to manage the migrant crisis during the winter, but it...