ZAGREB, November 18, 2019 – An on-site investigation on Tuhobić mountain, where a police officer shot a migrant who is in a critical condition, has been completed and “items of interest for further investigation have been recovered,” Primorje-Gorski Kotar County Police said on Monday.
They added in a press release that they could not say more for the time being given the confidentiality of the investigation and a pending report by experts of the Police Directorate.
In coordination with the county prosecutor’s office, the police are continuing the investigation to establish all the relevant facts concerning the shooting of the illegal migrant and the light injuries sustained by a police officer, the press release said.
The police recalled that a group of 17 foreign citizens, including the shot migrant, illegally entered Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since none have said they intend to apply for international protection, the process of their readmission to BiH has been started.
The Rijeka University Hospital said the gravely wounded migrant was on a respirator and that his condition remained critical.
He sustained serious gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen during a police operation on Saturday in inaccessible terrain on Tuhobić mountain in the Gorski Kotar region.
Citing unofficial sources, the media have reported that the wounded migrant was carried to a car several kilometres away by the officer who should shot him and another officer. The officer allegedly wanted to shoot in the air so that other officers could come to his assistance however he tripped and fell, shooting the migrant.
The Centre for Peace Studies (CMS) said on Monday it was unacceptable that police shot a migrant in the Gorski Kotar mountainous region, while the police union said the migrant was wounded when a gun accidentally went off and that his life was saved because the officer in question acted in line with the highest principles.
According to media reports, the man underwent urgent surgery due to a gunshot wound in the chest and abdomen area and Rijeka University Hospital doctors are fighting for his life. The use of firearms against refugees and migrants is becoming the rule, and the Interior Ministry and Minister Davor Božinović are doing their best to justify such conduct instead of preventing it, the CMS said in a press release.
The unofficial police information, although the investigation’s findings have not been disclosed, is unconvincing and even more worrying are Božinović’s statements justifying the use of firearms by police towards migrants, this nongovernmental organisation said, adding that this was not the first time that shots were fired at groups of migrants and refugees.
The SPH police union applauded the activity of all police officers protecting the state border in a difficult time when, it said, the number of people trying to illegally enter Croatia is on the rise.
Conscientious and professional police activity is necessary to maintain the state’s integrity and citizens’ security as well as to meet all the commitments Croatia undertook by joining the EU and other international agreements and associations, SPH president Dubravko Jagić said in a press release.
As for the shooting of the migrant in Gorski Kotar, he said all public and official information so far indicated that he was shot when the gun of one of the police officers who came across a group of illegal migrants accidentally went off.
Unfortunately, the wounds were grave and the person is still in serious condition, but his life was saved only because the officer whose gun accidentally went off acted in line with all the highest principles of the police profession and humanity, carrying the migrant, together with a colleague, over three kilometres of inaccessible terrain to a place which an ambulance could reach, Jagić said.
The dedicated work of the police to save the life of a migrant is a deeply humane act, the union concluded.
More news about migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.