The group of 11 men (1 from Algeria and 10 from Syria) started walking in the evening of the 16th of February 2019 from Velika Kladuša to the border of Croatia. They crossed the border at night time in Pašin Potok (HR). They had to cross a small, tiny brook and during the crossing they saw lights from a car. The group ran to the next house they saw and tried to hide from the car. The car came closer and turned off the lights and drove slowly towards the house. The group was trying to escape but they were too late. In the van were around 7 police officers and one female police officer. They got quickly out of the van and surrounded the group. The police made them to stand against the wall from the house. The interviewee described that some of the police officers were totally drunk.
“We smell that they drank beer.”
The police started beating them – punching, kicking and during they got beaten up the officers were insulting them as they were shouting “Motherfucker” and “Fuck to Muslim” etc. The only female in the group of police officers the interviewee described as “a crazy woman”. She laughed through the whole procedure in a very inappropriate way. All the officers were wearing the same uniforms – dark blue, heavy black boots, black gloves with a plastic part over the fist bones and a black hat as stated by the respondent. Two of the officers were wearing as well a face covering mask. The mask covered though only half of the face, up to the nose. The way of beating from those two officers were similar to each other and filled up with more hate. The interviewee described:
“Their way of beating was more violent compared to the others.”
As well in the group was as described “the chief”, an older man without hair. During the humiliating one police officer forced one guy of the group to totally undress himself. Naked standing there he got kicked in his genitals. They threw wooden sticks against them as well.
“They kicked us like a ball.”
One younger looking police officer got into the situation and was trying to calm down the situation while saying “dobro, dobro”. The interviewee described it like he was saying to the others “It’s enough now.”. One of his colleagues answered him with pointing a fist into his face.
The beating lasted several minutes. As another police van turned up, they stopped and suddenly around 6 other police officers were standing beside them. Those police officers were all men. They started searching the people-on-the-move, but in a very carelessly way as the respondent recounted.
“They searched us too quick to really find something.”
Right away the second police group asked everyone to give out their phones and power banks. They broke the phones with their black torches and put them together with the power banks in a bag.
After the second police group walked everyone to one van, they had to enter the van. While sitting in the van, the police officers were calling twice one person out and made them to collect the rubbish around the van.
Finally the van started to move. The group was sitting in a VW-Transporter without windows and the back was separated by metal. They drove for only a few minutes to the property of Buhača (HR) at the border to BiH. The “good” police man, the one who intervened the beating, opened the door. He said:
“Don’t be scared. You can go out, go to the border.”.
They walked with him a few minutes as one of the group recognized that he forgot something in the van. The officer let him go back to the van to grab his stuff. As the guy went back the other officers walked up to him and beat him again. Everyone now started to run towards the border. They got to the brook where the water reached up to the knees and crossed there into BiH.
During the push-back were around 14 police officers around. They were mixed from the two groups at the apprehending. The only female police officer was as well around at the push-back.
The people-on-the-move did not receive their phones back as the respondent asserted.