I remember the time when I was 20 years old, a young man with a great attitude towards life and freshly developed sense of righteousness. I went to visit my cousin in a little town of Omisalj on the island of Krk.
I met a lot of nice people there, most of them were older than me, as my cousin was 6 years older. It was a mix of people from Zagreb and some locals, the type of people which I always kind of preferred, an open-minded people without some strong individual egos trying to jump in the first row of the picture. I spent a couple of hours there and as I explained that I am coming back to Malinska on Krk in a couple of weeks with my former girlfriend, they invited me for the Omisalj night’s festivities, which is a great summer celebration on the island, even though my cousin won’t be there any more. I said that I will try and went back to my family summer house on the lovely little village Hreljin, on the mainland.
After a couple of weeks, my girlfriend came and we went to the house in Malinska, which a mutual friend offered to us for a week. That was my first visit to Malinska, which I did not really like. For me, the whole idea of getting out from Zagreb was to get away from the Zagreb folk and Malinska was full of them, well, as was the whole island of Krk. I am born and raised in Zagreb, however, and probably as everywhere, there is decent folk in Zagreb and there are primitive folk in Zagreb and considering circumstances of war and my growing up, and even that my family will claim the decent side, I wasn’t really sure to which side I belong to. Not after everything I did in my 20 years of life.
The day came when the festivities were on and for some reason, my girlfriend did not want to go with me for the celebration, so I took a bus and went by myself. I have spent a very nice day there and stayed up till late in the night.
At one point the last of my new friends left me as it was around 2 a.m. and I had to wait for the first bus which would take me back to Malinska, so I was just sitting on a little wall, looking at the people and the celebration slowly faded away. I turned to look at a number of policemen gathered around one of the guys that were local and which I have previously met, we even had a nice joint together and exchanged a couple of words a few weeks ago, so I was observing with interest what is going on.
The local guy was standing, without his t-shirt, the top of his body naked, which was quite normal for the period and the summer heats, but it seemed that there is some argument taking place, and at one point I did notice him tilting his head back and spiting the shoe of one policeman. The second did not pass and my daring friend was on the floor, being dragged and hit.
I am still not sure till this day what was triggered in me, as there were seven policemen and it was a big no, no, to interfere with police or even worse to assault the police, however I stood up and run as quickly as I can, pushed one policeman to one side, the second to the other side and I was standing on top of the poor guy seeing his skin on the back brushed off by the street stones and bloody. I got a second or two where I helped the guy to stand up, however, whatever shock the police was it did not last long and very fast I could feel pain going through my body as they started kicking me. I did try to run away, but after a couple of quick steps, I was tripped, fell on the floor, kicked hard by foot and as soon as I know it I had handcuffs on my wrists, squeezed so hard that the traces remained for weeks.
The adrenaline pumping, all the commotion somehow made me fail to realize what just happened. We were taken to the police van, locked in the dark and driven through some rough roads what it seemed for hours and in one point, the police parked and went somewhere, probably in a night bar or God knows where. It was the first moment that I could say a word to my acquaintance in trouble. I wanted to know what and why did all that happened, so he explained me.
At the time, every year and a couple of days before the festivity the police sends a call-up for “informative chat” to everyone considered to be trouble makers, because of the big rivalry between locals and ever-growing number of people from the continent, especially Zagreb. To be sure and to secure that no problem would occur, the sometimes lock and keep the people there until the festivity is over. My acquaintance was one of the people that did not respond to the “invitation”.
Listening to the story I could not believe, I just get myself locked up, because of the guy that was a potential threat to me and people coming from the other sides of the country. I told him so and we had a nice round of laughs, which was the last mutual round ever.
Suddenly, while still in the dark, waiting for who knows what, a strong stench of shit become present in the van and I asked my friend “Damn, can you feel that stench?” He answered with a laugh that he did it and that police can have it now. I responded to him “Fool, it is us that will have it now, my god what have you done?”, as we were the one that had to sit there for hours to come with a nice sense of manure. He remained silent, probably because his little brain realized the stupidity of his action and I swear, even if I couldn't see him, even if he was all beaten up and I was too, I wanted to kill him.
After a while in our smelly “idyll”, we could hear the police coming back and a new rally drive began. The next time the van has stopped, the back doors opened and the first sound that I could hear was “God damn, someone has shit himself!” We were invited to come out and a group of police officers standing in a young moon formation was surrounding the van. We were invited in the station, they took our information and as the whole island was already waking up, they took us to the doctor to check for our injuries.
I could notice that the doctor wasn't really too glad to see his new patients, however he made a list of all the cuts and bruises, that was probably a new protocol to protect the new inmates from receiving additional injuries, as nothing similar to my knowledge existed in the communist era and it would show as my later ticket to freedom.
After all the checks we were taken back to the police station, where we were handcuffed as animals for a radiator in a hallway and left there to stand and wait. The time has arrived for the new shift and I realized that when one guy ran in, I could hear a question “Where is that guy who assaults the police?” and after being pinpointed he sprinted towards me and hit me so hard on my feet that I immediately found my self on the floor. Then they uncuffed us, took our belts, shoelaces and took us to our quarters, as I found out later, to secure that we won’t harm ourselves in any way. Funny thing though, when you are being harmed, how would you find the strength to additionally harm yourself? Our -5 * star quarters were actually a solitary confinement, almost pitch black, with just a gym matt on the floor and a whole for a necessity.
I found my self in a kind of stasis, being taken for “interrogation”, where they would hit me and as I found out even let the janitor coming in and hit me in my body and in my face. They were careful though, not to make any new injuries, so they struck on the places were injuries already existed. I kept my mind and my mouth shut. I did not cry, I did not beg for any mercy and after a while, they stopped and if asked anything only polite and true words came through my mouth.
Funny thing however, after the first 12 agonizing hours, little by little everyone started to treat me as a friend. The guy that sprinted on me, brought me water and sandwiches and almost a friendly smile and a form of pity could be visible on his face. They probably did realize that I did not deserve everything that has happened to me, with a noble cause as a trigger to my suffering.
Long story short, they kept me there for 28 hours, instead of legally approved 24 hours and when I was going away it was almost as a family separation moment. I was taken to the offense court in Krk to be proclaimed guilty for disruption of public peace, with a monetary fine and to be prosecuted criminally for an assault on a public officer, which was 1–3 years in jail penalty.
As soon as came to Malinska, my girlfriend was crying as even my mother, brother and she was there at Krk police station, however not allowed to see me, so the first sight of her bumped lover was not the nicest sight in the world I could imagine. Anyway, I had her to photograph every injury which was new on my body, as I had doctor’s diagnose paper and with all the passion one will have when placing new injuries on another human, you cant always be too precise. The pleasure that people take, the power of doing wrong to others is in the blood of the wicked man, as we have witnessed through the courses of history and simple-minded police officers, soldiers, which are taught to hate cannot neglect that urge, as it is their purpose, the army of hatred!
Life took its course and after a while I was invited in Zagreb to the place called “The palace of justice”, which I would rename later to “The palace of convenient justice” as I was brought in front of a prosecutor and she would normally ask for the highest penalty considering that it was the public assault and when she asked me to make a report as my defense I simply wit a calm voice said:
“It was a necessary defense act, as every human being has it’s civil duty to react when any other living being is treated inhuman, and even failing to react to such action is a criminal act for itself. However, I did my public duty and stood up against the tyrant in this matter, which resulted with my freedom being stripped from me, being insulted and tortured, with only my spirit to turn to and to lose all the fate which I had in a kindness of a man and his righteousness. I have a doctors report with the list of injuries 28 hours before and the dated photographs with new injuries after I was released. Everything that they did from the start was just wrong and as I see it, the officers of peace that comes from the people and are paid by the people should not have this kind of actions described as their duties.”
The woman was stunned. For a while, she did not know what to say, or what to do. After a couple of moments, witnessing confusion in the silence which was in the air, she opened her mouth and said:
“Here is what I can offer you. We will drop all the charges, you will do 30 hours of community work, nothing will go under record and the condition is that you don’t press charges against police”
The convenient justice!
I accepted, but there you go, after 18 years, the truth is public.
All of you people that have been mistreated by the system and I know that there is a lot of you and even policemen who are misled and corrupted by the system, you have my love and let’s hope for a better tomorrow.
Thank you for reading, you have become a big part of my life.
Good thoughts, Good words, Good deeds”