Croatia to release relative of killed refugee girl

Madina Hosseini was killed on November 21 when she was hit by a passing train near the Serbian border town of Sid. | Squat Le Monde

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, sources said.

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

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.

However, the release brought 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,” sources quoted Vanja Bakalovic, a legal expert working for the Centre for Peace Studies as saying.

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.

Medecins Sans Frontieres had tweeted on November 22 saying “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, noting 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.

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