Earlier in the day, RTL television showed videos of men wearing ski masks pushing back migrants from Croatia across a backwater of the Korana river, hitting them with batons such as those used by riot police. Some of the men also wore vests like those of riot police.
RTL said the footage was from June and that it was taken during an eight-month journalistic investigation in which an RTL crew took part with colleagues from Lighthouse Reports, an investigative journalistic network based in the Netherlands, from the Swiss SRF Rundschau, the German ARD, ARD Monitor, the French Liberation, the Dutch Pointer, the Croatian Novosti, and the German Der Spiegel.
Ničeno told RTL the Police Directorate saw part of the video for the first time earlier in the day and the whole report later on TV.
“We saw that the material is impressive and the police director decided to form a task force that will go to that supposed terrain tomorrow. Given that these are journalists’ claims, today we called the Cetingrad police commissioner and we haven’t managed to determine the location of the event,” Ničeno said.
He said blows or beatings were not part of regular police procedure and that there was no command or order to push back migrants and beat them. “In order to establish all the facts, everything has to be checked.”
Ničeno said Croatia was one of the most successful countries in catching migrant smugglers and that the job of the police was to protect the Croatian border. However, he added, “it’s absolutely impossible that someone in the police would order or support such hitting.”
Investigation by a number of European media
The video and story about violence against migrants were released in a number of countries, including testimonies by migrants, medical staff, investigators, and analysts.
Investigative journalists Klaas van Dijken and Lamia Šabić recorded the violence near Šturlić on the Bosnian side of the border.
About 20 meters from us, we saw through the bushes four persons with masks hit people and force them into a river up to their chests. By force into the Korana and back to Bosnia, van Dijken said.
By looking at the footage, he said, they noticed that the men wore vests like those of the Croatian riot police.
Analysts also established that the gun one masked man had on his belt was made by the Croatian company HS Produkt, which supplies the Croatian police. They also noticed the baton used by Croatian police.
Also broadcast was drone footage showing persons brought to the border in a van and directed to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The head of Lighthouse Reports coordinated a journalistic investigation on the Romanian and Greek borders as well. Lots of information leads to the conclusion that similar practice is being implemented on other European borders, RTL said.
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