On the night of 25 December of 2020, two Moroccan men and one Algerian (all aged in their 30s) prepared to attempt (after more than 10 failures) to reach their destination of Italy. They left their place in Velika Kladusa at around 3:00 am and arrived at the Croatian border around 6:00 am. They proceeded to then walk around 18 km through mountains until they arrived to a forest at around 4:00 pm on December 26th, where they waited until it became dark again.
At around 12:30 am, just after midnight, they left their waiting place inside the forest to start walking again. Shortly after this, “4 white police cars with a blue line on the side” appeared and stopped next to them:
“They were waiting for us because they saw us. I saw them carrying the night vision machine” said the respondent.
According to the respondent, eight officers (seven male and one female) then jumped out from the four cars. As the respondent described, all of them were wearing black uniforms with symbols in their shoulders. They were not wearing hats or masks. The police officers asked them how many were there together and called for a an additional van (also white and with a blue line on the side) that arrived a few minutes later, and put the three men inside it the enclosed back carriage. The police officers drove the van for almost 3 hours (although, according to the respondent the real distance to the border was less than 20 km) at which point the vehicle stopped and the group-members were taken out of car at around 3:00 am. The location that there were brought to was on the Croatian-Bosnian border in the Croatian village of Hadzin Potok, not far from the Bosnian town of Šturlić.
Two police officers blinded the three men with flashlights when they just put their feet on the ground, ostensibly to prevent them from seeing anything. The respondent referred to them as “normal Croatian police” and that they were wearing hats, but also said that it was hard to distinguish more of them. They made them leave all their belongings in a pile before setting it on fire (mobile phones, power banks, backpacks, food) and stole their money – 150€ between the three of them.
The respondent recalled “Thanks God this time they didn’t beated us”. When finished with this, after approximately 15 minutes, the two police officers brought them to the Bosnian side of the border and made them walk back again.
“At the forest point that they leave you there is a road made with the footprints of all the people that got deported like me”.