The group of three left Novi Grad (BIH), a town directly on the Croatian border, on February 15, 2019. For 1,5 days, they walked through forests and predominantly remote areas without taking a break. They didn’t see a single person, only dogs.
“That was the distance of risk. During this part you cannot make a break.”
They walked about 35 kilometers until they arrived in the small village of Majur (HRV) around midnight. When they found an abandoned house, they decided to sleep there. At 4.30 am, they took a bus from Majur to Sunja (HRV) and then a crowded train to Zagreb (HRV).
When they arrived at the train station in Zagreb at 6.30 am, there were officers waiting in front of every train door. They stopped them and asked for papers. When the three individuals responded that they don’t have papers, the officers said:
“Okay, then come with us. “
The officers took them in two different cars to a police station in Zagreb where they searched them and took their personal belongings, i.e. money and phones. Afterwards, they were asked for their personal details, i.e. name, surname, date of birth. They later had to sign forms which contained all this personal information, after which they had their photos taken. They were not informed about what was going on.
“They told us that they will bring you to the camp in Croatia and that they are just getting the paperwork ready, but this was a lie.“
They were detained together in one cell from 7 am till 10 pm and got food at some point. After 10 pm, several officers arrived and accompanied them to a van, around the size of a Mercedes Sprinter, and a cage inside. The two officers who picked them up wore dark blue uniforms with a pistol, a baton, handcuffs and a pepper spray on their belts.
The trip in the van took approximately 1,5 hours during which they were exposed to cold air.
“It was insanely cold in the van, during the whole trip the air condition was on, really strongly on. Outside was snow, inside cold air condition.”
For the last five to ten minutes of the trip, a small 4×4 police car followed the van. They stopped on a remote forest road. The back door was opened, and an officer grabbed the bag with the collected phones and the money of the respondents. He closed the door again and started smashing the phones outside with his colleagues. After this, they put the bag with the phones back, opened the second door and said:
The Tunisian male went first. After him, they closed the door again.
“Then we could hear him scream. Aiii, aiiii, for one or two minutes they beat him very hard many, many times aiiiii, aiiii, ahh.”
“Go! Don’t come back!”
One of the officers shouted at the Tunisian, then they let him run away.
After, one of the respondents was called to step out. Next to the backdoor of the car the two officers from Zagreb were standing in their normal uniforms. Lengthwise of the van there were six officers with black uniforms and black balaclavas standing in a row. The respondent had to pass all of them. The first shouted at him:
“Go, go, go!”
Then the second beat him several times very strong with his baton on the leg.
“The police men was very tall, more than 1.90 m and strong.”
One of the respondents just ran as fast as he could for approximately 50 meters before he arrived at a normal border crossing on a small street blocked with a table high block made of white concrete. The street was quite wide but not tarred. He couldn’t see much because it was dark but was able to find the other individual of the group there (see estimated location on map).
The last individual was handed out the bag with the smashed phones and the money, €200 and 200 Kuna. He was hit by a baton so hard that he lost the bag and when he went to pick it up, the officers hit him even more. They continued hitting him several times on the right shoulder which a doctor some days later diagnosed as being broken. He then managed to escape, ran towards the border and found his two friends hiding behind the concrete block.
They walked back to Velika Kladusša, which was five to six kilometers away.
Image of the individual with the broken arm being treated.
X-Ray and report which reads: Fracture Tuberculum Majus.