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They [the police] do as when you want to catch some animals, they do like this, like: 'I catch you'

Date & Time 2019-12-18
Location near Buhača, Croatia
Reported by No Name Kitchen
Coordinates 45.183868, 15.776213
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 19 - 65
Group size 9
Countries of origin Morocco, Egypt
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 7
Violence used kicking, pushing people to the ground, insulting, gunshots, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
Police involved 5 Croatian policeman wearing black uniform, 2 police vans; 2 Croatian policeman wearing ski mask, unknown colour of the uniform, 1 van.

The respondents, a group of nine people aged 19, 24, 65 and 20-25 were walking near Blatnica Pokupska (HR, coordinates 45.510490,15.724805) when stopped by Croatian authorities, at approximately 02.00 in the night on 18th December 2019. Five male Croatian authorities wearing black uniforms stopped the group on the move, two of them coming from one side along the river and three of them coming from the opposite side.

When they saw the police, the respondents tried to escape but stopped as they met the other police officers coming. One policeman supposedly shot twice in the air and shouted “stop”. The respondent cannot remember if the police officers had any emblem on their shoulder, but he remembers that police had pistols, boots up to the ankle and no special body protection. Two police vans were present. 

The respondents were forced to sit on the ground, pushed by the police officers. The respondent tried to assist some of his fellow group members who could not understand the orders given by the police.

“Some friends do not understand English, I just want to translate but they [police] say ‘stop!’ . I tell them that I am just translating, they answer me that that’s not my business”

The respondent affirms that he continued to translate into Arabic all the police’s orders in order to help those in the group who did not speak English. When the respondent translated an order for a 65-year-old men:

sit down or I kick you”

The police then told to the respondent:

“this is the last time, don’t tell anything”

The police forced the respondents to sit down by pushing with hands and made the group wait on the floor in the pouring rain. While sitting on the ground, the respondent states he was thinking alot, and therefore did not hear the following order by the police. In response the policeman shook him three times, kicking him with his leg and saying:

“hey, look at me, I talk with you”

The police took the phones and powerbanks of the respondents and withheld them. Referring to the way the officers sorted these items, the respondent said:

If they find a good telephone, they keep it, but if they find a bad telephone, they destroy

The respondent reports police asking to a member of the group for the password of the phone. Police frisked the respondent but could not find his phone, which the respondent had hidden in his underwear. Police took money, food, sleeping bags and backpacks of the respondents and set them on fire.

“Just fire, as every time”

“They do not take clothes because we do not run too much. If we run they take everything”

The respondent reports police addressing him with bad words such as “shut the fuck up” and laughing at him when asking of his country of origin.

“Morocco, Morocco”

Was what the officer repeated, laughing. The respondent asserts that at least one policeman had consumed alcohol, which he could smell from his breath when the policeman went close to his face and told him to shut up.

“He comes to me and the last time he says -shut the fuck up-, between us maybe 20 centimeters” 

The respondents waited under the rain for a certain time and were later loaded into the police van, with police shouting at them “go go go” and pushing them with the hands. Describing the way the group was handled he said:

“They do as when you want to catch some animals, they do like this, like ‘I catch you'”

In the van, the police frisked the respondents again. “They know that I have something”, says the respondent, to whom police ordered to pull off the jacket. He asserts how:

“They were so closed [by frisking] to my phone, if they find my phone it would be a big problem”

While frisking, police took and destroyed the respondent’s camp ID card. The respondent reports police laughing at him in the group. To all the other respondents, police returned the camp ID cards back. But the respondent did not recieve his, stating

“I don’t know why just me”

Two of the policemen who stopped the group on the move drove the van while the other policemen remained there “waiting for another group”, says the respondent. The respondent reports the police driving reckless: “crazy drive, everybody felt nausea”, he says. Police did not give to the respondents any explanations on where they were going nor had the van any window to see outside. The respondents says “[anyway] we know that we are going to police station”. The respondent perceived the travel in the van as 45 minutes/ one hour long, at the end of which the van arrived to a police station.

The respondents did not entered into the police station and were instead transferred into another police van, which the respondent describes as “worst” [than the first]. In this second van there were other two policemen, both wearing a ski mask which covered their faces. The respondent was unable to distinguish the colour of the uniforms because it was dark nor can he remember if the van was a police van or a civilian one. None of the respondent asked for asylum because “no one think about that, everybody was scared”, says the respondent. 

The respondents were driven to the border of HR with BiH (approximately 45.183868,15.776213), travelling in the van for a period of time perceived as 30 minutes long. Also in this case the drive was reckless and the vehicle veared around the road. At the border, approximately around 05.00 in the morning, the police opened the doors of the van and told the respondents “go, go to Bosnia”. The respondent did not know where they were not could they see anything because it was dark. “I can’t see anything there”, says the respondent. From the point they were pushed back to the town of Velika Kladusa, the respondents walked two or three hours, taking pauses to sit down and rest because of tiredness and rain. The group on the move arrived in Velika Kladusa around 7.00 in the morning. Referring to the incident, the respondent summed up stating:

“I don’t know why they do this, but what police does can’t stop me. We don’t care, we have a goal and we will do it. That’s it”.