On the morning of the 3rd of October, after they had been walking for seven days, five people got apprehended by Croatian officers. Following the respondent’s reconstruction of the events, six men from the Croatian special forces stopped the group in the “forest” at around 11 am. The respondent affirms they were near road D23 road in Croatia. The respondent could localize the approximate area but could not pinpoint the precise location.
The special forces described by the respondent wore green uniforms; following his additional description, it is reasonable that those were members of the Croatian Specijalna Jednica Policija (SJP). This police unit is usually involved in the patrolling of the Croatina territory and frequently plays a role in the apprehension of People on the Move.
“Croatian special police see me and tell me: stop running, sit down, no go!”
The respondent insists they did not receive poor treatment. Still, the special forces asked the group to hand over their mobile phones, power banks, bags, sleeping bags, and food.
“‘Where is your mobile? How much mobile?’ ‘I tell.’ ‘How much power bank?’ ‘Two.’ And they all take. Money, my bag, sleeping bag, and food.”
After being captured, the group had to wait in the same location for about one hour. After the time had passed, one man who was identified as a policeman by the respondent (wearing blue clothes) arrived and led the group into a van without windows.
This policeman recklessly drove the van for about one hour. The respondent described that he was exposing the group to very high temperatures in the back of the car. Later, he stopped and went out to grab a coffee. The respondent also stated that the officer stopped at a church on their way to the border.
During the journey, the group also stopped at another location where they waited for about one hour, and then changed the vehicle. They drove for another hour with a different van and a different policeman, and after they stopped again and had to wait for another two hours.
After that, a third car arrived with two police officers, and brought the group to the border, driving for another hour. The respondent was not able to identify the locations where they stopped the vans in the border area since the special forces had taken his mobile.
Once they arrived at the border, the group found four policemen waiting there for them. Based on the respondent’s description, it is plausible that these policemen were part of the EPZ, a subunit of the Croatian IJP. Certainly, the men were wearing masks and blue/black clothes.
This unit checked every person in the group at the border and forced them to undress: they took the shoes, pants, and shirts. The respondent also affirms that they pointed the flashlights directly in their eyes so that they could not see anything.
Afterward, at around 8 p.m., the – alleged – EPZ forces pushed the group from Croatia back into Bosnia. The group members were forced to line up and walk across the green border. As they passed the police officers lined up to the side, they were each beaten with a police baton.
After being beaten and robbed of all their belongings, the group walked fastly to the Lipa camp, which was 35 km away from the pushback site, wearing only their underwear.