Abduction Suspects Detained, Analysts Fear Incident Will Spur Anti-Migrant Populism

By , 11 May 2019, 08:36 AM Politics
The army putting up barbed wire along the Croatian border in 2018 The army putting up barbed wire along the Croatian border in 2018 total-croatia-news.com

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STA, 10 May 2019 - The investigating magistrate in the case of the abduction of a man by illegal immigrants has ordered that all three suspects arrested on Wednesday remain in detention. Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar meanwhile said the police were in control of the situation on the border with Croatia and that "there is presently no need for protest rallies".

 

A 25-year-old Morocco citizen and two 18-year-olds from Algeria are accused of abduction, theft and car robbery, prosecutor Srečko Hočevar told the media.

The three were arrested on Wednesday by Italian police and handed to Slovenia on suspicion they had abducted a 79-year-old man working in his vineyard near the Croatia border and had used his car to get to Italy. The man was released before the border.

Responding to the developments today, minister Poklukar said he regrets "that this criminal act occurred", but is "happy that it ended well".

"The Slovenian police are effective and successfully completed the arrest of the perpetrators together with the Italian police," the minister said on the sidelines of a fair in Portorož.

While Poklukar is convinced Slovenia is a safe country with a functioning national security system, he said the country was facing an increase in the number of crossings on the Croatian border.

"In the recent days we stepped up police activities and increased the number of army units in municipalities with a higher number of illegal crossings."

Commenting on the protest rally announced for Saturday in the Bela Krajina border region, the minister said that the police were in control and that no protests or discontent were necessary.

Analysts fear rise of anti-migration populism after incident

STA, 10 May 2019 - Two analysts quizzed by the STA feel that Wednesday's abduction of an elderly man by illegal migrants will have a profound effect on the ongoing EU election campaign. Andraž Zorko of pollster Valikon and Igor Kršinar, a journalist for the weekly Reporter, also agree PM Marjan Šarec made a mistake by not responding to the incident more aggressively.

Zorko said "nothing will be the same" after Wednesday, arguing the incident confirmed the darkest fears spread by the far-right - "that it is not refugees who are entering Slovenia but economic migrants who can be violent".

He added the development would boost the campaign of the parties with the hardest anti-migration stances, primarily the recently formed Homeland League (DOM) followed by the opposition Democrats (SDS).

While Zorko believes the opposition National Party (SNS) and its head Zmago Jelinčič, "a left nationalist", can only hope to win over a few centre-left voters frustrated with their primary parties' migration policies, Kršinar believes Jelinčič will be the biggest beneficiary of the incident.

Kršinar said Jelinčič had already stood out during Thursday's campaign debate on TV Slovenija: "He might even make it to the European Parliament, which will definitely be a special kind of affair."

Kršinar does not believe DOM will benefit, arguing the party has not attracted enough media attention and that unlike Jelinčič, DOM's leader Bernard Brščič is not a capable public speaker.

"Jelinčič says in a few words what many people want to hear but do not have the nerve to say. So called serious parties actually have a problem in that they cannot perform in the manner Jelinčič is doing it," he said.

Kršinar meanwhile feels that it remains unclear for now how much the SDS can gain. "Of course it will try to use the incident in its favour and it will be among the more important participants of Saturday's rally in Bela Krajina" border region, where the immigrants abducted the man and his car to get to Italy.

As for Šarec's decision to reject the SDS's call for a session of the National Security Council, Kršinar said the prime minister "made a major mistake and missed the opportunity to publicly demonstrate his determination to secure order and peace".

Zorko also said this was "a very bad message to the people living on the border", while both also highlighted the failure of Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar to appear at Thursday's press conference of the police.

The pair agrees a determined reaction would have been necessary from the state, since the situation is feeding the growth of populist movements.

"A determined PM would have immediately sent the army to the border and extended the border fence," Kršinar said, suggesting Šarec's LMŠ party may even fail to get a single MEP elected in the upcoming election because of the situation.

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