Published in Nacional number 687, 2009-01-13

Autor: Berislav Jelinić


DORH exonerates Ivo Pukanic

After months of investigation the police have established that the monstrous accusations Mirjana Pukanic levelled at her husband were entirely unfounded

FABRICATIONS AND LIES Mirjana Pukanic (left) concocted monstrous accusations against Ivo Pukanic; in the photo with attorney Visnja Drenski-Lasan and a police escortFABRICATIONS AND LIES Mirjana Pukanic (left) concocted monstrous accusations against Ivo Pukanic; in the photo with attorney Visnja Drenski-Lasan and a police escortThe State Attorney's Office of the Republic of Croatia dismissed on 19 December 2008 charges against Ivo Pukanic, filed by his wife Mirjana Pukanic on 15 April 2008, in which she claimed that he had abused her, forced her to take drugs together, pimped her to other men, humiliated her and would not let her get a job. This decision entirely exonerates Ivo Pukanic of all of the unfounded attacks that had been launched by his unstable wife, and which were orchestrated and presented to the media by Sanja Sarnavka, the head of the Babe Association.

Thanks to Mirjana Pukanic and Sanja Sarnavka, the late Ivo Pukanic spent all of last year, right up to his death, under fire from irresponsible media who, on the basis of these false accusations, claimed that Pukanic was a wife abuser, rapist, drug dealer, pervert, drug addict or fearmonger. The amount of bile poured over Pukanic in the "Mirjana Pukanic Affair" was quit unbelievable. Among the several hundred write-ups directed against Ivo Pukanic one could sense an enormous amount of hatred, anger, malice and envy, which culminated when, blinded by the false accusations of Pukanic family violence, in April of 2008, reporters began claiming that he had even concocted an assassination attempt against his person to defend himself from the accusations of his wife Mirjana. It was shown subsequently that this media lynch made the jobs of Pukanic's killers a much easier one – tired and depressed by the amount of lies written about him, Pukanic ignored warnings that there was a threat to his life out of Serbia, and did not react to them, fearing that the same press would ridicule him once again.

Just short of two months after his tragic death the State Attorney's Office has definitely confirmed that the media massacre that served as an introduction to Pukanic's murder was based on lies and fabrications, and that these lies were deliberately served to the press for their own promotion and benefit by Mirjana Jusup Pukanic and Sanja Sarnavka. This epilogue to the "Mirjana Pukanic Affair" reveals that Mirjana Jusup Pukanic spent several months in a safe house for no reason under the supervision of Sanja Sarnavka and the Babe Association. There they spent funds donated to the association on her, funds that were to have been spent on women who were truly victims of violence. What is interesting, and also tragicomic, is the fact that Mirjana Pukanic has since 19 December 2008 on four occasions avoided being served this decision, even though she enjoys police protection to this day. At the State Attorney's Office they are justified in wondering how it is possible that they cannot locate Mirjana Pukanic and serve the decision to her, even though she is under the protection of the police, who should know at every moment where she is.

SANJA SARNAVKA orchestrated a media campaign based on the unfounded accusations levelled by Mirjana Pukanic against her husbandSANJA SARNAVKA orchestrated a media campaign based on the unfounded accusations levelled by Mirjana Pukanic against her husbandThe epilogue to the "Mirjana Pukanic Affair" above all opens the question as to whether Sanja Sarnavka, a self-proclaimed women's rights activist, has any more legitimacy for any kind of future social work, something women's associations should now themselves speak out openly about. If they have any sense of conscience, HHO (Croatian Helsinki Committee) leaders Ivo Banac and Ivan Zvonimir Cicak, also the perpetrators of manipulation in this case, should ask themselves a similar question, as should many journalists, led by Natasa Skaricic, Mladen Plese, Zoran Sprajc, Matija Babic, Ivanka Toma, Dusan Miljus, Sanja Mikleusevic, Mirjana Hrga, Jasna Babic, Zdenka Duka, and others who published and carried lies aimed at attacking Ivo Pukanic. And while Ivo Pukanic died on 23 October 2008 in a brutal assassination, the State Attorney's Office has made an effort to meticulously investigate the claims made by Mirjana Jusup Pukanic of alleged abuse.

State Attorney Mladen Bajic ordered a very detailed investigation into the allegations made by Pukanic's wife in order to avoid claims that he was using his position to help his acquaintance Pukanic. Mirjana Jusup Pukanic filed charges against her husband at the premises of the Department of Juvenile Delinquency of the Primorje-Gorski kotar County Police Administration. In the charges she stated that Ivo Pukanic had belittled and disparaged her from the beginning of their marriage, insulted and called her demeaning names, saying that she was a "dumb cow, a stupid cow, a slut, that she was a good-for-nothing and that even her mother would have disowned her," and that he had spent the last 12 years of their marriage trying to convince her that she was crazy and seriously mentally ill. She also stated that Pukanic would not allow her to gain employment, that she did not even have her own car to use, that he called her an alcoholic, lazy, and that she did not care for their child…

In the charges she also stated that her husband had started offering her cocaine three years ago, to which she agreed, which was followed by a period in which they used drugs together, with him procuring the cocaine and keeping it in a safe in their bedroom, and subsequently in the garage. In the charges Mirjana Pukanic stated some vulgarities, and in the end that her husband opened a profile on the Iskrice portal under the nickname Niki 1,2,3, where she was forced by him to carry on conversations of sexual content and to post her nude photos, photos she kept on her mobile phone and showed to the police. Operatives of the Crime Investigation Department then carried out a crime investigation and questioned Mirjana Jusup Pukanic, Ivo Pukanic, their underage daughter Sara Pukanic, their housekeeper Vlasta Berger, Pukanic's parents Mijo and Draga Pukanic and sister Anka Pukanic, and Mirjane Jusup Pukanic's friends Darinka Tupek, Roman Brindl, Anita Putric, Lidija Grbic, and their common friend Alma Draganic Brkic and Zeljko Bagic.

This is how the State Attorney's Office described the questioning of Mirjana Jusup Pukanic's friends: "Her closest friend Darinka Tupek was questioned on several occasions and her statements indicate that she knew of the abuse of Mirjana Jusup Pukanic by her husband only through her stories, but that she had not in fact noticed evidence of abuse on Mirjana Jusup Pukanic nor was she personally present during physical or verbal attacks by the accused against said person, while she did confirm her knowledge that Mirjana Jusup Pukanic was a cocaine addict. The other friends of Mirjana Jusup Pukanic, Roman Brindl, Anita Putric and Lidija Grbic also did not have direct insight into their relationship, nor did they notice evidence of physical abuse on her, although Anita Putric did not exclude the possibility that her husband had in fact mistreated her, but did not in fact corroborate her suspicions with any concrete statements." As the police had received confirmation from Mirjana Jusup Pukanic's closest friend Darinka Tupek that she was indeed a cocaine addict, the police in particular looked into the allegations in the charges related to the consumption and procurement of cocaine.

The findings of the State Attorney's Office in this regard state the following: "…hair samples were taken from the suspects Ivo Pukanic and Mirjana Jusup Pukanic in the frame of the crime investigation and forensic testing was undertaken to confirm whether or not they had consumed narcotic drugs. The forensic tests showed that Ivo Pukanic had not consumed narcotic drugs, as drugs or their metabolites were not found in his hair samples, while for Mirjana Jusup Pukanic it was established without a doubt that she had consumed the narcotic drug cocaine, for at least 10 months up to the moment when the testing was carried out in April of 2008." The police also spoke with the Pukanic family housekeeper, Vlasta Berger, and their young daughter Sara Pukanic. The findings of the State Attorney's Office state that, quite opposite from the allegations in the charges, both "decidedly denied that the suspect Ivo Pukanic had at any time and in any way abused, demeaned insulted or denigrated his wife as she had described," and Vlasta Berger herself on several occasions emphasized that Mirjana Pukanic often exaggerated things and did not tell the truth, so that she herself had never believed in most of her allegations. Ivo Pukanic's parents and his sister also did not confirm allegations of abuse, but did point out the psychological problems of the accusing party, her consumption of alcohol and inappropriate behaviour as the cause of problems in her marriage to Pukanic.

FIRST ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT STILL NOT SOLVED Shots were fired at Ivo Pukanic in April of 2008: to this day it is not known whether the October assassins or a drug ring close to Mirjana Pukanic were behind the attackFIRST ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT STILL NOT SOLVED Shots were fired at Ivo Pukanic in April of 2008: to this day it is not known whether the October assassins or a drug ring close to Mirjana Pukanic were behind the attackDuring the investigation the police also questioned the tenants of the building at no. 107 Ilica street, where the Pukanic's had their apartment. They spoke with Jadranka Mustajbegovic, Srecko Bobanovic-Colic, Slavica Bobanovic-Colic, Zoran Brajovic, Vesna Babaj, Milan Bolek and Nada Sarac. They all said they had never seen any signs of abuse Pukanic might have committed against his wife, pointing out rather that they were a polite family, and that their child was an exceptionally well brought up and polite child. As Mirjana Pukanic, in collusion with Sanja Sarnavka, on several occasions put on a show for the public in her apartment, calling the police to protect her from her husband's alleged abuse, police officers were in the apartment on more than one occasion. Working on the case police investigators spoke with their colleagues who had answered the calls at the Pukanic flat. They all also said there had not been any kind of violence in the family and that they had not noticed evidence of verbal or physical abuse on Mirjana Pukanic. While working on the case the police also acquired reports filed by the Social Services Centre, and the findings of the State Attorney's Office state that from them "it also could not be concluded that there were signs of family violence or abuse in the Pukanic family, although it was evident that Mirjana Jusup Pukanic had certain psychological problems."

The police analysed the communication that Mirjana Jusup Pukanic led by way of the Iskrice portal, and questioned S.C., G.M. and D.D., who "confirmed that they had had contact with a female individual by way of the profile Niki 1,2,3, and that they exchanged correspondence and photos with her, and had conversations of a sexual nature, but that none of them had had the impression that it was a person who was doing so because someone was forcing them to, rather that she enjoyed those kinds of conversations." These persons told the police that Mirjana Pukanic never complained that someone was forcing her to do it, nor did they have the impression that someone was with her while they were speaking with her. With all that has been cited, even disregarding the statements of the members of Pukanic's family, who all spoke the best of Pukanic, there were no grounds for the claims made by his unstable wife.

For example, the findings of the State Attorney's Office state that their underage daughter Sara Pukanic emphasised in police questioning "her excellent relationship with her father, speaking of him as a caring parent with whom she got along very well, unlike her mother who had episodes of strange moods, spend days in bed, took various kinds of pills and behaved inappropriately." As a result of all this, the State Attorney's Office dismissed the charges filed by Mirjana Jusup Pukanic and cleared the late Ivo Pukanic of suspicion of any wrongdoing.

In part this was explained as follows: "The allegations made by Mirjana Jusup Pukanic were confirmed in part in their statements only by her friends who, however, did not have any immediate knowledge of concrete events or of the behaviour of the suspect, but simply related what she had previously told them, and could not corroborate this with their own observations, even though some of them stated that they believed her allegations. On the other hand, the questioned members of the Pukanic family, the housekeeper Vlasta Berger and Sara Pukanic, who undoubtedly had a much more immediate insight into the family life of the suspect and his wife, his behaviour towards her and her behaviour towards him, denied that said suspect had ever been violent towards her, that he would demean, insult or mistreat her as she described." Pukanic had been impatient to see out the end of this criminal investigation, because he knew that he had been wrongly accused and was the victim of a great injustice. Because of his tragic death, unfortunately, he was not there to see this denouement to a fabricated affair, or his own public rehabilitation.

Council of psychiatrists to decide

The State Attorney's Office is also nearing the end of its work in the investigation into whether there were violations of the law in the forced hospitalisation of Mirjana Pukanic. This case is also being approached with the utmost gravity, and it appears that here too there will not be a judicial epilogue. Comprehensive documentation has been collected so far, and the results of the questioning of many persons indicate this kind of outcome. The most important thing for the State Attorney's Office will be the results of expert psychiatric evaluation that will show whether Mirjana Pukanic should have in fact been hospitalised when she was. And, according to Sunday's edition of the Vecernji list daily, Ivo Pukanic has already been taken off the list of suspects, not because he passed away, but because he in no way took part in any activities that could be linked to the later hospitalisation of his wife.

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