The respondent, a 20 year old Moroccan man, was caught after walking for 11 days through Greece from crossing at Meric. He was apprehended, along with another Moroccan man, at around 2pm, north of Drama, by two police officers. The officers were identified as speaking Greek and English to each other, but did not speak much. The respondent explained he couldn’t focus on the uniforms they were wearing as he was immediately handcuffed and had his head forced on the ground. These officers then reportedly took their phones, money – 100 € from the respondent – and all other belongings they had on them.
The respondent and his companion were allegedly beaten by the police with batons. They were then taken in a white van to a “place like jail”, as described by the respondent. The journey took about an hour until they arrived. Based on the information given by the respondent, the detention site was suspected to be the Paranesti Pre Removal Detention Centre. When shown pictures of it, the respondent was certain it was indeed Paranesti.
At the detention site, there were several officers that the respondent identified as members of the Greek army, as well as multiple other cars. He reported that there were about 140 other people at this place of detention with the respondent and his friend, along with about 5 other people. The nationalities of these people were Algerian, Syrian, Afghan, Tunisian and Moroccan, including children, women, and families – aged between 14 and about 50 years old.
They were detained in a small cell, that only had space to sit on the floor of the cell. The police locked the door to the toilet so they were not able to access it. The respondent explained they were detained for 2-3 hours, but others had been detained for longer as the police had been apprehending people and bringing them to this detention centre.
The respondent stated that they were denied water and food. “We were so hungry,” he explained. He reported that they were not able to ask for asylum because they were so afraid to do so or confess their nationality, as if he was to say he was Moroccan, “they beat me”.
After 2-3 hours of being detained, the respondent explained that all 140 people were ordered to leave the detention site. Two vehicles were waiting outside. One was described as “Traffic crafter 207”, the other as a “big military truck”. The respondent and 15 others were ordered to embark the smaller vehicle, all others were made to enter the big truck. The respondent described the driving as “reckless” and “he was driving too fast we keep colliding with each other”.
According to the respondent, the officers involved in this pushback “don’t talk too much, they just took everything from you and they beat you”.
When they arrived at the river they were awaited by 8 to 10 more officers. These officers were dressed in camouflage uniforms and wearing black balaclavas. A boat was reportedly also ready, when they arrived at the river, to take them across to the Turkish side. The boat was described as about 2 to 2 and a half metres long and plastic.
They were taken in groups of seven across the river, and when they arrived in the middle of the river they were allegedly made to jump and swim across the river themselves. “If you can’t swim, you dead” explained the respondent. The respondent described that the water level in the river was high, making it dangerous to cross.
The first city they made it to after they crossed onto the Turkish side was Meriç.