Croatia man’s ‘Way of the Cross’ protest against military jets

Sasa Pavlic walked 200 kilometres carrying a heavy wooden cross on his back to protest Croatia's purchase of military jets

Zagreb (AFP) – A Croatian man walked 200 kilometres (130 miles) carrying a heavy wooden cross on his back to protest the country purchasing military jets when, he claimed, it did not have enough money for seriously ill children’s medication.

Sasa Pavlic embarked on the symbolic “Way of the Cross” march, evoking Jesus’s procession, with the 20-kilogramme (45-pound) cross in the northern port of Rijeka on Saturday, the day before Easter.

“I carry it for all the children and their parents who are told that there is no money for medical treatment, while there are billions of kunas for jets,” he said, referring to the local currency. 

Croatia’s government decided earlier this month to buy a squadron of F-16 fighter jets from Israel to modernise the country’s military — a deal worth 390 million euros ($480 million).

Dozens of well-wishers, including children and the parents of seriously ill children, greeted Pavlic as he arrived at a square in front of the main government building in capital Zagreb on Thursday.

“I delivered the message and my job is completed,” Pavlic said after meeting Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

Pavlic, a 43-year-old small business-owner, said he was not motivated by personal reasons, as he does not have a child requiring expensive medication.

Nearly 90 percent of Croatia’s 4.2 million people are Roman Catholics and the Church plays an important role in society.