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NATO state’s defense chief sacked after fatal car crash

Croatia’s Mario Banozic allegedly caused the deadly collision while overtaking a truck on a foggy and slippery road

Croatia’s Defense Minister Mario Banozic has been dismissed from his post following his involvement in a traffic accident that left one person dead and him seriously injured, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkoic announced.

The accident occurred on Saturday morning, near the city of Vinkovci, in eastern Croatia and was allegedly Banozic’s fault. According to media reports, the politician was driving his own vehicle and was trying to overtake a truck on a wet, slippery road and in thick fog, when he collided head-on with an oncoming van, driven by Goran Saric, 40, who was killed instantly. 

Banozic sustained serious injuries to his brain, chest and limbs and, allegedly, does not remember the accident. After receiving emergency treatment at Vinkovci General Hospital, he was transported to Osijek Clinical Medical Center.

🇭🇷❌🇭🇷 The Prime Minister of Croatia, Andrej Plenković, dismissed the Minister of Defense, Mario Banozic, after an accident in which a man died.
According to the preliminary version of the prosecutor’s office, the culprit of the accident was the head of the Ministry of pic.twitter.com/hkLXiycg9d

— Dan mutungi (@dannmuts) November 12, 2023

“We expressed our condolences to the Saric family through the mayor of Vinkovac who visited the wife of Mr. Šarić in the early afternoon, we are in contact with the wife of minister Banozic,” the Prime Minister said in a statement to journalists.

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“In these circumstances, which are truly extraordinary due to this serious traffic accident, I relieved Banozic of his duties as Minister of Defense,” he added, further confirming that the State Secretary Zdravko Jakop was authorized “to assume all of the necessary responsibilities, so as to ensure that the defense ministry functions in the best possible way.” 

Plenkovic did not elaborate on where the ex-defense chief was going or where he was the night before, but said that at the time of the accident, Banozic was off duty and as a “protected person of the 2nd category” he was entitled to drive his own car. 

The police investigation is ongoing, with local media reporting that no alcohol was found in Banozic’s blood. 


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