Croatia: The death of a young girl shakes the country, sheds light on systemic shortcomings

Croatian citizens mourn the death of a severely injured two-and-a-half-year-old girl who died Sunday after being attacked by her mother.

Slavonski Brod District Prosecutor Mirela Smital said the indictment against the mother would change and she would be charged with causing grievous bodily harm resulting in the death of the child. The crime carries a prison sentence of 3 to 15 years.

The severely injured child, who was brought to the Zagreb Children’s Hospital from Nova Gradiška on Wednesday, died on Sunday, as Chief Goran Roić announced earlier today.

Despite medical treatments and extraordinary efforts, her condition deteriorated critically and her brain death was confirmed, Roić said.

The mother brought the child to the hospital, claiming the child had suffered a fall. Doctors tried to resuscitate her, however due to the severity of the injuries, she was transferred to Zagreb in the afternoon. The head of the Nova Gradiška hospital, Josip Kolodziej, said the injuries were severe, especially to the head, but also visible all over the girl’s body.

On Saturday, a Slavonski Brod District Court judge returned the parents to custody for a month. They partially admitted to the crime of violating the rights of the child.

Mother fight accused of child abuse.

Investigators suspect the girl was abused between November 2020 and March 31, 2021, while the couple’s other three children, who have been separated from their parents, are believed to have been abused for a longer time.

The family is no stranger to the Nova Gradiška Social Welfare Center, as numerous reports of domestic violence have been filed against the father in the past. The girl was in a foster family for more than a year, however the center returned her to her parents at their request.

The center’s director, Branko Medunić, was fired after an administrative inspection revealed irregularities at the center.

Jelena Veljača, who founded the civic group “Save Me” in 2019 after a 54-year-old from Pag Island threw his four young children from the first-floor balcony of his home, said the group’s representatives would look into a meeting with Minister of Labor and Social Policy Josip Aladrović on Tuesday that parents accused of domestic violence should not be allowed to live with their minor children and that social workers charged with the case of a child from Nova Gradiška should be fired.

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