The respondent, a 24-year-old man from Morocco, was part of a transit group with other two men from Morocco. On July 27th, 2023, the group was reportedly apprehended by the North Macedonian police near the border between North Macedonia and Greece. After the arrest, the transit group was reportedly taken to a police station near the border and then to a refugee camp in the proximity of Gevgelija, from which the group was subsequently pushed back to Greece at 6 am of the following day.
The respondent reported that the transit group crossed the border between North Macedonia and Greece in the morning of 27th July and was apprehended by approximately 6 or 7 young police officers later in the evening, around 8 pm. The respondent recalled that the officers were wearing police uniforms that he recognized as the uniform of the North Macedonian police. After the arrest, the group was taken to a police station that was located approximately near the border to Greece.
At the police station, the group were subjected to violence by the same police officers and a man in civil clothes that the respondent recognised as “the boss”. This man was described by the respondent as “bigger, he was 200 kg” and he was violent towards the group. The man reportedly told the group:
“You cannot come here; you cannot come to this country. Find another way”
Reportedly, the respondent and the rest of the group had their fingerprints taken by the man who was referred to as “the boss”. Additionally, this man and the other police officers shouted at the group and beat them for the entire night in order to collect their personal data. He reportedly beat and slapped the respondent and the rest of the group while shouting in English “how did you come to North Macedonia?” and “who is the smuggler?”. The respondent reportedly replied that they were just three people and there was no smuggler.
“They kept on shouting at us and slapped us until they got all the information from us, about our nationalities, our ages, our names.”
Once the police officers gathered the personal information of the transit group, the respondent and the other two people with him were taken by the same police officers into a van which had no seats. The respondent and the rest of the group were seated on the floor of the van and were “tired already” so they fell asleep during the ride. The group was reportedly driven to a refugee camp near Idomeni. The respondent recalled that the refugee camp was located near a train station and a river, as it was also mentioned in previous BVMN testimonies.
Once at the refugee camp, the respondent and the other two people with him had their fingerprints and pictures taken without being informed why.
“They did not say why they needed that, they spoke their own language”.
On 28th July at 6 am, the group was taken in proximity to the border, and they were consequently pushed back to Greece through a gate. After the pushback, the respondent and the other two men with him walked until they reached the village of Evzonoi, where they asked for help to the police but were ignored. They continued walking until they reached a police station in Polykastro which was located near the local church. At the police station, they reportedly asked for help to the officers because they did not have a place to go to and did not have any money or food to eat. Reportedly, the police officers in Polykastro arrested and handcuffed the group, who was immediately transferred to the Idomeni police station on a blue van. The respondent recalled that on the van there were Greek speaking police officers carrying batons.
Once arrived at Idomeni, the respondent reported that he and the rest of the group were not provided with food because they arrived outside the normal food distribution hours. The group was reportedly really tired and slept for two days. After these two days, the respondent met a police officer who could speak English and informed him about the possibility of claiming asylum.
The respondent asked for asylum on July 31st. On the same day, the respondent reportedly had a 2-hours interview with an English woman in presence of a translator.
The respondent and the rest of the group were reportedly detained at the Idomeni police station for 26 days without the possibility to go out and exercise at any point of their detention. The respondent described the police station as “not a good place to stay”, as it was very dirty and “smelly”.
“It’s like a prison. No fresh air or things like this. (…) It was like, one day felt like one week. Because you have nothing to play with or lose time with. So one hour feels like three hours.”
In order to receive food, the respondent reported that he and the other prisoners had to sign a document twice per day. The document was in Greek, a language he does not understand. Additionally, the group was not informed about the length of their detention and was not provided with any type of legal or psychological support.
After 26 days, the respondent was asked to sign a paper in Greek language. He asked for the translation, but his request was denied. After he signed, the respondent and the other two men with him were transferred to the Metagogon police station, where they stayed 1 month and a half before being released.