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24 February 2009 - Media release

INTERPOL to support Croatian-led operation to protect and help foreign tourists

ZAGREB, Croatia – INTERPOL today offered its full backing and support to a multi-country operation led by Croatia to protect and help foreign tourists from criminality and offer enhanced protection from transnational criminals and terrorists.

The backing from INTERPOL follows a series of meetings in Zagreb today between Tomislav Karamarko, Croatia’s Minister of Interior, Vladimir Faber, General Director of Croatian Police and INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

Codenamed ‘Tours’, the operation involves the deployment to Croatia during the summer months of national police officers from countries with the highest number of tourists, who then work alongside the Croatian police to provide support and assistance.

INTERPOL’s support will include the provision of secure laptops and specialist equipment to the multi-national police teams and the deployment of an INTERPOL Major Events Support Team (IMEST) to Croatia to act as a hub for international communication and co-ordination when required.

Mobile access to INTERPOL’s databases – pioneered by Croatian police which became the first among the Organization’s 187 member countries to have direct access to INTERPOL’s databases via mobile phones and laptops – will also be a key element in supporting the operation.

“This multi-national approach supported by INTERPOL provides the best chance for a cohesive and co-ordinated effort for fighting national and international criminals targeting tourists,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

“This operation will become a model for enhancing the safety and security of tourists around the world which can be adapted to any of our member countries’ specific requirements.”

INTERPOL’s support for Operation Tours was welcomed by Minister Karamarko and General Police Director Faber who also announced that as part of Croatia’s ongoing commitment to supporting international law enforcement co-operation that in addition to the further development of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Zagreb, a Croatian police officer will be seconded to the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France.

During his mission, the Secretary General also met with Boris Spudić, Head of Criminal Police, and Marijo Rošić, Head of the Department of the International Police Co-operation, to discuss INTERPOL’s continued support for the Croatian authorities’ ongoing investigation into the death of Australian backpacker Britt Lapthorne.

“The Croatian police are still actively investigating the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and death of this young woman, and the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon and our National Central Bureaus around the world will continue to provide any assistance required or requested,” said Secretary General Noble.

“Staff at our 24-hour Command and Co-ordination Centre in Lyon are maintaining this case as a priority enquiry to ensure that any new information or leads received anywhere in the world can be acted on swiftly.”

Britt Lapthorne disappeared from Dubrovnik in the early hours of Thursday 18 September 2008. The following month, DNA tests confirmed the identity of a woman’s body found off the Dubrovnik coast as that of the 21-year-old backpacker.