BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
BUSINESSMAN Joseph Richard Crnkovic’s lawyer Kossam Ncube says the Croatian national’s protracted dispute with other shareholders over Glen Forest Memorial Park is now being discussed at diplomatic level.
The businessman fled his hotel room last week and sought refuge at the European Union (EU) Commission mission after he claimed that he was being hounded by suspected State security agents.
Crnkovic, who has dual Zimbabwean and Croatian citizenship, fled to the EU Commission offices in Harare claiming that his life was in danger. He is locked in a bitter fight for control of Glen Forest Memorial Park and is the director of Fopuld Investments with a 49% shareholding in Candrina Investments that own Glen Forest Memorial Park.
It is believed that the alleged “hitmen” tried to forcibly remove him from the EU commission offices without success.
Ncube told NewsDay that he spoke to EU officials who confirmed that the matter will be discussed at diplomatic level.
“They are in the initial process of hearing his side of the story and will engage member States that are willing to take him. The EU says it is not sure how they are going to deal with the matter,” Ncube said.
“I am yet to know what decision they made on him and from the look of things the decision will be held at diplomatic level. There was also no indication that Crnkovic is being sought by the police or is facing any offence.”
Crnkovic’s co-director and Zambian businessman, Hillary Duckworth, said the EU head of Finance, Contract and Audit section in Zimbabwe Fabienne Chevremont copied him an email indicating that the matter would be forwarded to member States since Crnkovic’s country of origin does not have consular services in the country.
“Crnkovic is my co-director on a company which has been mistreated in an investment into Glen Forest Memorial Park, and so he is an important colleague in this issue and his whereabouts now matter to me.
“We understand Croatia is a small country in the EU and cannot afford its own embassy in Harare, but as members of the EU, I presume they must expect consular support,” Duckworth’s email to the EU commission read.
Crnkovic has not been communicating to his lawyer or Duckworth since Friday.
“Unfortunately, we have no idea what happened to him at the closing of the EU delegation on Friday and I fear for him as he has not been communicating with me or the lawyer,” Duckworth said.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs ministry said: “We are not aware of the issue. Normally, if the person is sought by the police and that person sought asylum at an embassy, the police are not allowed to enter that embassy. The police write a letter to us and it’s us who engage the embassy at diplomatic level, but as far as I know we are not aware of that issue,” Foreign affairs deputy spokesperson Livit Mugejo told NewsDay.
Sometime last year, a conflict ensued between Crnkovic and the other shareholders who were trying to buy him out by offering him shares in an extension of Glen Forest known as Chikomo Chemhute where over 40 000 people are already buried.
Crnkovic, however, refused to sell his shares in Candrina, arguing that Chikomo Chemhute was an illegitimate enterprise which exposes the business to litigation from families of people buried there.
He claims that the cemetery has no regulatory approval from the Environmental Management Agency, and the land should be reserved for residential accommodation and agricultural use.