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4th February 2020, 21:20

​Man who fled to Gibraltar to escape prison sentence in Croatia to be sent back

The Magistrates Court has ruled that a man who fled to Gibraltar escaping a ten year prison sentence in Croatia, is to be sent back to the country to serve his time.

Croatian national Nikola Katic was arrested on the Rock in December last year, on the strength of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the Croation Supreme Court.

Robert Fischel QC, acting for Nikola Katic said that his client had been living and working in Gibraltar and is a resident on the Rock who pays his taxes.

In 2015 Katic was sentenced to ten years in prison by the Croatian Supreme Court, for being a member of an organised crime group, which had been involved in drug trafficking.

Katic was on remand awaiting trial in Croatia for around four years - where he was eventually found guilty.

In Croatia, there's a limit to how long someone can be held on remand for. Katic had reached this and was consequently released from prison, awaiting sentencing. However, by the time his sentence was ordered, he had already fled the country, eventually ending up in Gibraltar.

His lawyer said that the 43 year-old wanted to serve the sentence on the Rock instead, however, Graceann Gear, acting for the Crown rejected this on the basis that the authorities in Croatia had made no such request.

Stipendary Magistrate Charles Pitto ruled he should be sent back to Croatia, where he will face his sentence. The process to send him back will begin in seven days time, unless he appeals the decision.