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Croatia to Release Relative of Killed Refugee Child

A Croatian court has ordered the release from detention of a relative of six-year-old Afghan refugee girl Madina Hosseini, who was killed in November by a passing train at the border with Serbia.
Refugees in Croatia. Archive photo: Beta.

The Administrative Court in the town of Osijek on Wednesday scrapped the custody order for one adult member of the Hosseini family, Croatian Centre for Peace Studies, a human rights NGO, told BIRN.

This sparked hope among human rights campaigners involved in the case that the rest of the family could be released soon.

“It is hard to say whether we are satisfied with this decision or not. First of all, the family was not supposed to end up in detention,” Vanja Bakalovic, a legal expert working for the Centre for Peace Studies, told BIRN on Tuesday.

The Osijek court is expected to decide by the end of this week about whether to release the other members of the Hosseini family, who have been detained in a refugee transit centre since they entered Croatia.

Madina Hosseini was killed on November 21 when she was hit by a passing train near the Serbian border town of Sid. Six months later, the circumstances of her death are still not completely clear.

Thise incident shocked the international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres, which posted on Twitter on November 22: “Yet another totally preventable death on the ‘closed’ Balkan Road. A 6 y/o [years old] kid was hit by a train last night after the family was pushed back from #Croatia.”

The Croatian Centre for Peace Studies said that before the tragedy occurred, the Afghan family had already reached Croatia and had asked for asylum.

It claimed that the Croatian police, violating the family’s right to access to international protection, instructed them to return to Serbia by night in the direction of the railway line.

After burying Madina in Serbia, the Hosseini family entered Croatia again on March 22 and applied for asylum.

But the Croatian police immediately detained all 14 of them in the Tovarnik Transit Centre, against their will.

The family is now suing the Croatian Interior Ministry over the death of Medina, claiming that she had lost her life as a consequence of the police’s actions.

Lawyer Sanja Bezbradica Jelavic, who is representing the family in the case, has previously complained that she was not allowed contact to her clients for month and a half after they were detained.

After finally managing to visit them on May 7, she said that they are being kept in inadequate conditions.

The European Court of Human Rights on May 11 issued – for a third time – a ‘provisional measure’ calling on Croatia to place the Hosseini family in conditions that are appropriate for children.