STA, 5 April 2019 - The man who hijacked a bus in Ljubljana last night before dying after being restrained by the police, had a history of violent criminal acts and had suffered from a psychiatric disorder, according to officials.
Addressing a press conference in Ljubljana on Friday, Stojan Belšak, the head of the organised crime division of the Ljubljana Police Department, said the cause of the man's death was not clear yet and would be established in a postmortem.
The man, identified as a 49-year-old from Kranj, boarded a bus No 6B headed for Dolgi Most in the south-west of Ljubljana shortly before 9 PM last night.
Threatening the driver with a screwdriver, he forced him to divert the bus in the direction of the Ljubljana ring road, threatening to kill him and the passengers on the bus.
To alert the police, the driver drove through a red light, switching on the indicators and waving his hand. One of the passengers also managed to call the police.
Noticing the signs, a police patrol followed the bus, intercepting it before it drove onto the Ljubljana ring road, Belšak said, praising the driver's reaction.
In the meantime, the police received several calls from citizens reporting that a man in a bus was threatening the driver with a screwdriver.
After the police stopped the bus, the suspect attempted to flee the scene, and when he lashed at the two police officers, the pair used a pepper spray and managed to handcuff him, said Belšak.
Once they managed to control the suspects, other police patrols arrived at the scene and they all started taking witness statements, during which time the suspect started to show signs of health problems and a loss of consciousness.
Seeing his condition, the police removed the handcuffs and started to resuscitate him, calling an ambulance. The suspect died after the paramedics arrived.
The Ljubljana UKC hospital confirmed on its Twitter account that the paramedics, having arrived at the scene, resumed resuscitation procedures started by the police, but that after 45 minutes of unsuccessful attempts the man was pronounced dead.
The suspect is the same man who barricaded himself at the Kranj office of the Agency for Public Legal Records (AJPES) last year. He had been hospitalised in the past for psychiatric problems.
Belšak said this time as well the man appeared to be confused, with a diminished capacity, "which could be a result of substance abuse", but this cannot be ascertained until a postmortem is conducted.
Before the incident at the Ljubljana bus the police received a similar report from the driver of a coach en route from Ljubljana to Kranj.
The driver told them that there was a man on the coach who kept "mentioning special police on the phone before he pulled out a screwdriver, wielding it". He got off at the first stop in Ljubljana, leaving behind a backpack, based on whose content the police established that it was the one and the same man.
Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar has already appointed a special fact finding commission to look into exact circumstances of the incident, something that is a routine procedure in cases of death during arrest procedures.