8 Croatians plead not guilty to child trafficking in Zambia

LUSAKA, Zambia — Eight Croatian nationals pleaded not guilty to new child trafficking charges in a Zambian court on Friday.

Eight – four couples – were previously arrested and charged with trafficking four children from neighboring Congo. They pleaded not guilty and the charges were dropped earlier this week and they were ordered to leave Zambia.

But when they tried to fly out of the southern African country, they were detained at the airport and charged with them.

A senior Zambian immigration officer in the central city of Ndola has been charged with human trafficking against Croatians.

Gloria Sakulenga, 36, Zambian from Kabompo has been charged with child trafficking along with eight Croatians: Damir Magdic, 44, electrical technician, Nadica Magdic, 45, technician, Zoran Subosic, 52 , musician, Azra Imamovic Subosic, 41 years old, manager, Ladislav Perisic, 42 years old, medical doctor, Aleksandra Persic, 43 years old, hair salon worker, Noah Kraljevic, 40 years old, program manager and Ivona Kraljevic , 36 years old, dog groomer.

The indictment alleges that Sakulenga acted with four Croatian couples in December to transport four children between the ages of one and three.

All denied the charge when the case was brought before the court in Ndola.

Kelvin Silwimba, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Department representing them, asked the court to release eight Croatians on bail pending trial because the four couples have fixed residences.

Swilimba told the court that the Croats were innocent until proven guilty and there was no need to detain them at the Kansenshi correctional facility.

The female immigration officer was released on a police bond.

Judge Jennifer Bwalya adjourned the case to February 14, when she said she would rule on whether the defendant could be released on bail pending trial.


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