STA, 20 December 2021 - UPDATED at 17:15 with more details - A car chase ended in disaster in Ljubljana on Sunday evening as a van believed to be transporting six migrants crashed into a traffic light in the centre of the city, killing one of the passengers.
Ljubljana police said the passenger killed was a 22-year-old citizen of Turkey, who was transported along with five of his compatriots in the cargo section of the van.
The driver, an 18-year-old Kosovo citizen residing in the Postojna area, was lightly injured, while the other five passengers sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries, a police release said.
Koper police officers tried to pull the van over on the motorway to the capital in the Kozina area, south-west of the country, on Sunday evening.
The driver refused to stop and the chase continued on the Ljubljana bypass and Tržaška Street, one of the main thoroughfares, before ending in a crash in the centre.
The police release said the man had been driving recklessly at even more than 180 km an hour. He hit two police vehicles near Brezovica, just outside Ljubljana, but failed to stop.
He was swerving left and right to prevent police vehicles from taking him over until he crashed the van into a car waiting at a red light. On the impact the van veered off to the left, crashing into the traffic light pole. The driver of the car the Kosovo man hit was not injured.
The driver has been remanded in custody. Information collected so far indicates all six foreigners entered Slovenia illegally.
The police managed to pull over a car that was driving immediately ahead of the van and allegedly served as a reconnaissance party at the Senožeče exit, south-west.
The three men in the car, aged 18 and 19, all of the Postojna area, have also been detained.
Addressing reporters, head of the Koper crime investigators Primož Ogrinc said inquiries were ongoing as several suspected criminal acts were being looked into, including reckless driving, obstruction of police work and illegal crossing of the border.
Once all the circumstances are cleared up the four suspects will be brought before an investigating judge.