The transit group started their trip from Velika Kladuša (BiH) on 9th February 2020 at 18:00. The group consisted of eight males from Morocco aged between 28 to 34. After three days walking, close to the Croatian village Graberje at the road D37, the group were spotted by two officers described by the respondent as “forest security” with a “PDV” emblem on their chest. This happened at 13:00 on the 12th February 2020.
The authorities approached the transit group in a car which drove down and stopped on the street. One of the officers was female bodied. The officers were described as friendly. The respondent and the other group members asked them for asylum and to be taken to Zagreb to lodge a claim. The authorities denied them this and called for more officers.
After a short period of time three more officers, all male bodied wearing blue uniforms, arrived in a red van. The respondent described the officers as aggressive. The officers drew guns and pointed them at the respondent and the other group-members, stating:
“If you try to run, we can kill you!”
They searched the group and took their phones, their power banks and the money of all group-members. The arriving authorities beat one member of the group with a baton and beat another group-member in the face, using the open palm and the back of the hand, repeatedly.
The officers who just arrived called reinforcements again. Two officers, wearing dark blue uniforms, arrived in a big van. All group-members had to enter the van. The respondent states that it was very dark in the van and that the air was very bad – referring to a “machine” which matches the description of the vehicles air conditioning unit – meaning the respondent felt tired and sick from the bad air.
The van was driven very roughly and erratically. As a result, the respondent and other group-members were being thrown around, their bodies hitting the walls, in the back of the van. After a 20 minute journey, the van stopped. One officer wearing a ski mask opened the door. He took the phones referenced previously and stepped on them repeatedly, breaking them in front of the respondent and the other members of the group. None of their belongings were returned. He told the group-members to leave the van. The respondent states the group had been brought to an area close to Glinica (BiH). The officers shouted at the group:
“go to Kladuša go, go!”
This was the last thing they said to the respondent and the other group-members. The transit group then walked back to Velika Kladuša (BiH), from which they continued to Sarajevo (BiH).