Croatian Interior Ministry Denies Allegations about Death of Refugee Girl in Train Accident

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The girl’s parents say the Croatian police forced them to cross the railway tracks.

Parents of six-year-old Afghan refugee Madine Hussiny, who died on 21 November when she was hit by a train crash in Šid, at the Croatian-Serbian border, have accused the Croatian police of forcing them to cross the rails and return to Serbia. According to the Guardian, Madine’s mother Muslima claims that the police found them while they were resting under the blankets in a park. They hoped the police would take them to the police station where they would apply for asylum, but instead, they were ordered to return across the border. “I have begged them to at least let us stay there overnight. We were already tired and cold, and the children are small,” Muslima said, reports Večernji List on December 9, 2017.

However, Croatia’s Interior Ministry claims that none of the above is true. They say that they used a thermal imaging camera to see a group of migrants on the territory of Serbia. Afterwards, they heard the sounds of train brakes and crash. A woman and a man run towards them with a bloody child in their arms. The mother voluntarily returned to Serbia, while the body of the girl was placed in the morgue of the Memorial Cemetery of the Homeland War Victims in Vukovar where it stayed for two days.

The Ministry issued the following statement.

“Due to the media reports and the Guardian article about the death of an Afghan girl in a train accident on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, the Ministry once again repeats the chronology of the tragic event.

The Ministry of the Interior confirmed that on 21 November 2017, at about 8 pm, approximately 250 metres within the territory of the Republic of Serbia, near the border with the Republic of Croatia, a train hit a child who was killed.

On that date, police officers of the Vukovar-Srijem County Police Administration used a thermal imaging camera and noticed a group of persons standing near the southern railway track, about 300 metres within the territory of Serbia. Several moments after the group was seen, the police officers heard the sound of a locomotive siren and the braking of the train.

After a short time, an unknown female and an unidentified male with a child in their arms ran across the border. The child was visibly severely injured in the area of ​​the head, with traces of blood on the face and an open wound. The child did not present signs of life, and police officers immediately called for emergency medical assistance.

Because of the difficult access for personal vehicles to the area when the police patrol was located, the police officers transported the child and the woman in their off-road vehicle to the Tovarnik railway station parking lot, in order to shorten the time for the emergency medical assistance to reach the child. The male was kept at the border, together with five other persons from the group.

An emergency medical team arrived, and at 9.10 pronounced the death of the child. Based on the personal testimony of the woman/mother of a child, who declared herself a citizen of Afghanistan, we found that the child was her daughter born in 2009. The police officers informed the girl’s mother about the further course of events, and she voluntarily agreed to return, along with the rest of the group, to the Republic of Serbia.

We do not know the details of the investigation and other actions during the aforementioned event because they are entirely under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Prosecutor’s Office, which implemented investigative measures and activities at the scene of the incident, which is, we reiterate, within the territory of the Republic of Serbia.

The body of the girl was placed in the morgue of the cemetery in Vukovar and was turned to a funeral company from Serbia on 23 November. The funeral, due to which the family has expressed disapproval over non-compliance with religious customs, was carried out in Serbia. We emphasise that the conduct of the Croatian border police did not in any way caused the accident and the death of the girl. Once again, the Ministry of the Interior expresses regret for this tragic event,” said the Ministry in the statement.

Translated from Večernji List.

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