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Ministry: Croatian Police Accused of Injuring Migrants Without Proof Again

By 12 June 2020

ZAGREB, June 12, 2020 - The Interior Ministry on Thursday dismissed allegations which, it said in a press release, accuse Croatian police, by established practice and without evidence, of injuring migrants.

The ministry was responding to an Amnesty International press release which said that Croatian police "tortured" a group of asylum-seekers on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The ministry said, "this time the alleged police action occurred in late May in the Plitvice Lakes area and on this occasion illegal Afghan and Pakistani migrants were tied to trees, mistreated with a knife, by shooting in the air and to the ground, beaten with pistol grips and eventually had ketchup, mayonnaise, and sugar smeared on their hair."

"We reject the notion that a Croatian police officer would do something like that or have a motive for that," the ministry said.

It recalled that "in the previous version of the accusations" police allegedly sprayed crosses on migrants' heads. "The crosses allegedly had some symbolism that one wanted to use in the month of Ramadan, but now the symbolism of ketchup, mayonnaise, and sugar eludes us."

"If the men wearing black, as has been insinuated, are supposed to be members of the Croatian Special Police, we recall that it is they who deserve credit for rescuing many illegal migrants, women, and children on inaccessible Croatian mountains in the most inhospitable terrain. Should this be a reason to directly attack and call them out?"

The ministry urged "all those who want facts" to pay attention to actual events, fights among migrants in camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as media reports on the injuring of migrants and the accidents and injuries that happen to them along the way.

"Since this latest theory mentions late May, we draw attention to the fact that on May 28, close to the Croatian border, in Cazin, migrants clashed among themselves near the village of Sturlic, and that the police were notified by a local," the ministry said referring to locations in Bosnia.

A representative of the Bosnian Interior Ministry confirmed that a police patrol found two dead men on the scene and that they had visible knife injuries, and Bosnian police established that a number of migrants were injured in that clash, the ministry added.

The people who meet migrants on a daily basis as part of their work know well the pattern of their fights, notably among Afghans and Pakistanis, the ministry said. "However, despite all of the above, all the public accusations need to be checked and they will be in this case too."

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