22:03 / 08.10.2021.

Author: Katja Miličić

Police chief: three officers face disciplinary action over pushback video

General Director of Police Nikola Milina

General Director of Police Nikola Milina

Foto: HTV / HRT

Croatia’s Police chief said disciplinary action was pending against officers identified in a video as the masked men beating migrants at the border.

General Director of Police Nikola Milina told a press conference on Friday evening that three officers have been placed on leave pending further investigation into a video released on European media outlets on Thursday, showing what appear to be Croatian police officers in balaclavas and unmarked uniforms performing a violent pushback of migrants near Croatia’s border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Milina said it was in the interest of the Police to determine what happened. The three officers belong to a special unit of the force known as “intervention police” and disciplinary action against them was pending, Milina said.

“Immediately the expert team determined that the persons in the video were police officers of the intervention police. As there is currently grounds for suspicion of a serious breach of official duty that severely damages the reputation of the police, the procedure of delivering the official decision to the police officers regarding their suspension is underway and disciplinary proceedings are to be initiated”, Milina said.

He also said Croatia was using the Independent Monitoring Mechanism, an EU system set up to ensure compliance with fundamental rights and EU laws. Police were working with state prosecutors on the investigation, he added.

“Our interest is certainly to shed light on the incident. We do not want in any way that any individual case affects the praise that the Croatian police constantly receive for their daily efforts, dedicated work in work and protection of the external border, but also in all other work,” said Milina.

He also denied media reports that the border monitoring operation Koridor secretly served to deter migrants from crossing the border illegally by using violence and intimidation against them.

“This is a long-term border police operation to suppress human trafficking. The operation is regularly reported on as part of the report to Parliament on the work of the police, data are exchanged with Europol, and their work is presented as good practice at the level of European police,” Milina said.

Milina claims that police officers were not ordered to treat migrants violently.

"There are no special orders, orders from I don't know who within the system," he said.

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