Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Another Embassy Update, This was even stupider than I thought!

ZAGREB (Reuters) - A Croatian arrested for Monday's blast at the British embassy in Zagreb has told police and court he accidentally set off a hand grenade he was carrying for protection after receiving threats.

Damir Rovisan, a 28-year-old embassy employee, was arraigned before a Zagreb county court on Wednesday and told the investigative judge, who will decide whether to indict him or not, the hand grenade went off because he mishandled it.

Prosecutors accuse Rovisan of jeopardising life and property and illegal possession of explosives. The state news agency Hina, which reported his court appearance, gave few other details.

A summary of Rovisan's earlier police testimony was published in Globus weekly on Wednesday. A police official confirmed to Reuters the report corresponded to his statement.

"I've been carrying the hand grenade with me every day since September 2, 2005, to protect myself and members of my family," Rovisan told the police, according to the weekly.

He said that on that day, he had received a threatening phone call from a member of a Zagreb criminal gang he was soon to testify against.

Rovisan, who has worked at the embassy for four years, said he was trying to secure the grenade's loose safety pin with a piece of string that had been wrapped around morning newspapers.

"I tightened it too much and the pin fell out so I threw the grenade and the papers away from me," he said.

Globus said Rovisan often did not have to go through metal detectors and other security checks at the embassy's gate.

He received light injuries to his lower leg in the blast in the embassy's mailroom and was briefly treated in hospital, where police arrested him after an urgent investigation.

Rovisan was sentenced to 16 months in prison earlier this year for armed robbery, but failed to show up in September to start serving his sentence.

The police said on Wednesday the embassy had not asked the Croatian authorities for a security clearance before employing Rovisan. The embassy declined comment.

Monday's blast was the first serious security threat to Western embassies in Zagreb since the former Yugoslav republic, which hopes to start European Union membership talks by the end of this year, gained independence in 1991.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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