On 4th February, the respondent’s group had made their way to the Croatian truck scanner of Bajakovo Border Crossing (coordinates: 45.048091, 19.098881) at around 3 AM. The respondents mentioned entering inside the truck during the previous night somewhere near Šid; allegedly around midnight, on 3rd February. The group was composed of four people on the move, aged between 17-22 years old. Once at the scanner, the respondents described that they were identified by Croatian authorities who told them to exit the vehicle. First, the officers could only find just three of them, while one group member kept hiding inside the truck.
Reportedly, while they were getting out of the truck, the Croatian authorities recorded a video of the group. At that time, the respondents remembered four officers with dark blue uniforms present; two of them were female and two male officers.
The respondent recalled that once outside, each group member was forced to hand over his mobile, and the screens were subsequently broken by the authorities. Then the mobiles were given back to the respondents.
The Croatian officers questioned the respondents who had already been detected with the intention of finding out if there were some other boys hiding inside the vehicle. The first respondent denied anyone was inside the truck. The Croatian authorities did not believe this response and were described as striking the respondent on his body and telling him:
“You are a liar.”
The respondent described his understanding that it was a punishment as the other group members were not beaten. He mentioned receiving about 5/6 baton blows on his head and on his backside as well. Thereafter, the officers reportedly threatened the respondent with one dog. The dog was let free and attacked the respondent, biting his shoes.
“There were (some) truck drivers and a lot of police (officers). Everyone was standing and looking when they (Croatian authorities) left the dog.”
After this, the respondents explained that the three of them were led to a closed space described as an underground room near the scanner. In the meantime, some officers were searching for the fourth group member. There were about six officers present inside the room, but just three of them went into a separate space with the first respondent, while the others were waiting outside with the two group members. Before the respondent was forced to enter a different room, each group member was forced to undress, taking off their jackets, shoes and trousers.
Once brought apart, the officers kept interrogating the first respondent about the number of people he was travelling with. He answered again they were three.
About ten minutes after they had been brought into the room, the fourth respondent was found. He described being beaten with batons, reportedly because he kept hiding. According to the respondent, one officer punched him in the face when he was found.
“When they saw me and I went out of the truck, they gave a punch to my mount and they asked me why I didn’t come out before.”
Then, he was asked for his mobile too. He mentioned a dog, allegedly the same who was previously threatening the other group members, now growling at him.
The fourth group member was led to the room described above, where he was forced to undress. There, three police officers were standing together with the others two group members, while the first respondent had been brought in a separate room some minutes before.
As soon as the fourth group member was caught, the first respondent in the separate space described having been beaten with batons an unknown number of times, supposedly as a punishment. He mentioned that a female police officer was present, together with two male officers. They allegedly beat the respondent, while insulting him at the same time.
The respondent recalled that at some point he needed to use the bathroom, nevertheless, the officers did not allow him to leave the room.
“Two male officers beat me in front of the policewoman (…) They were angry, maybe they were using bad words, but I couldn’t understand what they told me.”
Reportedly the authorities tried to communicate with the respondents using a translator. They wrote something on their laptop, but the respondent couldn’t understand, since he was not able to read. Subsequently, the officers reportedly became angry and they hit the respondent again with 2 or 3 baton blows.
“They wrote something in English, after that they translated it in Pashto (…), but I’m not able to read and write. So they asked me «why can’t you do anything? » and they beat me again”.
After around 45 minutes, the respondents were led out of the room outside and forced to enter a van, where they spent roughly 10 minutes in transit.
At around 4 AM they arrived at a spot near the Serbian border (approximate location: 45.055263, 19.099677), where they were ordered to go out of the vehicle one by one. When the first respondent went out, the officers closed the door so the other members couldn’t see what was happening. The same procedure was followed with all the respondents. Each group member was reportedly asked for his money and his mobile, even if the officers broke the mobiles of the group previously. Subsequently, each member was beaten with batons on the back 5 times each. One respondent recalled that his camp card was checked.
The respondents explained that they ran away immediately after having been beaten and told by the Croatian authorities to go back to Serbia.
After that, the group walked some hours until they reached a safe place near Šid around 8 AM, on 4th February.