A group of 4 individuals from Morocco and Algeria crossed the Croatian-Bosnian border 20km south of Velika Kladusa at 8 AM on July 1st.
“This area has so much mountains, at one mountian I ask my friend: When does this mountain finish? Because for 8 hours we are only walking up and up and up. You need to be strong like a horse for this mountain! It takes so much energy and you need so much water, and in the mointains you don’t have water, and maybe if you go down to get water the police will find you.”
The respondent described how he avoided the military area “Eugen Kvaternik”.
“In this military zone there is some soldiers who are training in this place. There is space to put guns, space to sleep, but all this jungle and these mountains is for training and shooting. Sometimes there is no training and you can cross easily via there, and sometimes there is training and you get caught there, you never know.”
After 13 days of walking and crossing the Slovene-Croatian border, on July 13 at around 3 PM, the men were very hungry and one of them decided to go to to the village of Markovščina (SLO) (see Fig. 1) to buy food for the whole group while they would wait for their friend in the forest nearby (see Fig. 2).
When he left the shop, the man was approached by 4 local police officers asking him about the amount of food that he bought.
“They asked ‘For who is this?’ I say ‘For me’, but they say ‘This is not for you, this is maybe for five or four [people]’.”
The respondent described that his friend was slightly punched in the belly at this point in order to make sure that he follows their order to show them the rest of the group.
“This man is stupid, really!”
The man and the officers were walking for approximately 15min until they arrived at the place where the respondent and the other individuals were waiting for him. The respondent described the officers as a group of two men and two women, two of them (one male, one female) dressed in black uniforms similar to boiler suits, the two other ones in blue police uniforms.
“I think these two wearing boiler suits are not normal police, one of them had a black dog with him.”
Once arrived, they bodysearched the whole group and checked their baggages before escorting all of them to the street where they were ordered to wait for two Audi cars and two windowless police vans with six more police officers dressed in the same blue police uniforms like the officers that the respondent described as ‘normal police’. Thy were asked to put their belts to the baggages which were transported seperately from them. The van was without air condition and due to the warm temperatures overheated and the men were driving 25min to a police station that the man was not able to identify.
At the police station, the men were all put in one room and interrogated one by one in another room. When asking for food, the officers only gave them a little bit of the food that one of them had bought in the supermarket in Markovščina (SLO). When complaining about it being their right to get food, one of the officers said:
“You don’t habe any rights here, shut up.”
The respondent described how during previous transit attempts when he was apprehended in Slovenia, he was provided a proper place to sleep and food while at this place they were put in a room without furniture together with his three friends and eight other male refugees and migrants from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Two of the Afghan refugees wereminors. At 6 PM in the evening of the same day, the respondent went to the window where an officer was standing outside, drinking coffee and smoking.
“I asked the officer: ‘What is this? I didn’t eat for 3 days and here is no place to sleep for me.’ One officer approached me, asked “You need food?” and he took his cup of hot coffee and spilled it over my face. Believe me, in this moment I was so confused, I went to the window and shouted that the whole police station could hear me, I asked: ‘Where is my right? I though that in Europe I have rights. Where are they? I can’t see them here! This is big big – sorry for the word – big shit what you are doing with me!’ And all of them were so surprised and didn’t answer.”
At 9PM in the evening of the same day, the men were given each a small portion of macaroni and salad as well as thin blankets to sleep on the floor. At midnight, the respondent asked to go to the toilet and while he was escorted to the toilet, he asked also to fill up his empty water bottles, but the officer escorting him just kicked the bottle out of his hand.
At 10 o’clock the next morning on July 14, without being provided breakfast, the men were brought in a windowless van to another police station in Croatia that he was unable to identify. The men were asked to put off their shoes next to their baggage and sit down while two Croatian police officers checked their baggage for things they want to keep.
“As if they were in a market!”
The officers stole in total 175€, three telephones, three power bank, two pairs of good sneakers, all new clothes in the baggages, 4 sleeping bags and a bottle of the respondents favourite perfume which is ‘1 million’ by Paco Rabanne. When two men from the group put the remaining pairs of shoes on, they felt pain on their soles, the respondents describes it as “something burning our soles, like acid.” The group spent three hours in total in the police station before being brought in a police van once more together with ten other individuals.
“Now I want to ask you something: How long does it take from Rijeka [HR] to here [BiH]? Not eight hours, am I right? But this car drives seven or eight hours with us.”
On July 14, at 8 o’clock in the evening, the van dropped them off 30km from Velika Kladusa (see map) at a small street. Two police officers with masks stood on both sides of the van’s door and while leaving all men at the same time out of the car they beat them with black batons.
“If you are fast enough, you can escape from them, if you are too slow, they beat you.”
The men walked back to Velika Kladusa from that point, two of them without shoes.