The respondent was part of a group of 150 men, walking through Croatia for seven to eight days. Due to heavy snowfall, the group stayed waiting in the woods for two days. They stayed in the area between two roads, after the road 23 and the highway E71. The respondent described that on the second day, around 17:00 in the evening, authorities wearing beige uniforms, resembling military uniform, detected the group. Some group members escaped by running away. About 90 people were caught, among them the respondent.
“We don’t run. The last game, we were running a lot in the snow but they follow the footsteps and catched. So in this game we don’t run.”
The respondent described that the authorities called several police officers. These officers arrived in police vans, and replaced the authorities that detected the group. The new officers were dressed in black uniforms, faces covered with masks and they were wearing batons, (resembling descriptions of the Croatian intervention police). The people were told by the police to stand in line. Those who did not speak English and did not understand what was asked of them, were beaten with batons.
“They told us: ‘you make a line’, you don’t understand and they beat. ‘You make a line!’, they say.”
The police officers collected phones, powerbanks, sleeping bags, backpacks and any other personal belongings. Afterwards the group was split and allocated to several police vans. The respondent was in a group of twenty-five to thirty people, that had to stand in the back of one van. During a five hours drive the people experienced bad air conditions, some people had to vomit due to the driving of the police.
“Maybe this is our punishment. In the van no windows, somebody vomiting, somebody not feel good […],” the respondent stated, when he described the drive in the van.
“Sometimes, they stop for the restaurant, for the drink, sometimes they stop for the coffee, three or four times they stop, but we stay in the van they don’t tell us anything.”
After the drive in the van, the police released the group on the border near to Šturlić, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. From there they walked back for five hours to the place of their departure.