Prosecutorial authorities in Croatia have ordered an investigation of police officers recorded participating in violent pushback of migrants because they suspect them of inhumane and cruel treatment, which, if proved, could mean a 10-year prison sentence for the officers, Jutarnji List reported on Tuesday.
Karlovac County public attorney Vera Magdić-Bižanović told the daily that following a video broadcast by RTL television last week she requested an investigation on the suspicion of torture and other cruel, inhumane or humiliating conduct or punishment.
The said offence carries a sentence of one to ten years in prison.
Last Wednesday, a number of European media outlets showed disturbing footage of a migrant pushback on Croatian territory. The footage showed men, wearing balaclavas and clothes similar to those of Croatian police, pushing migrants across a backwater of the Korana river towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Interior Minister Davor Božinović last Friday confirmed that Croatian police officers were involved in violence against migrants on the Bosnian border.
In a statement to the press on Monday, Božinović said that the police who were recorded beating migrants did not do so under any orders.
What could be crucial for the investigation is determining whether the police, given that they undoubtedly used force, had compiled a report, which they were obliged to do under the law and professional rules.
Even if they use force against unidentified persons, police are obliged to write it down in a report at the end of their shift. Unofficial sources have told the daily that in terms of disciplinary responsibility, this could be treated as unconscientious conduct, excessive or unreasonable use of force, and humiliation of the person involved.
Given the circumstances and the media as well as political attention the case has drawn, if the police are found responsible, they could be suspended for a year or transferred to a less exposed position in disciplinary proceedings, Jutarnji List writes.