The group of four males, aged 23-34 and all from Algeria, left from from Velika Kladuša on the 25th of May. The 23-year-old respondent told us he had planned out the route on his own using google maps. At the border between Bosnia and Croatia, the group had to cross “a place with three rivers where you need to swim. The second river is normal, just up to the knee and the third also.” After they successfully crossed the river, they continued and, in the end, they managed to cross Croatia for Slovenia in six days. Once they arrived at the Croatian-Slovenian border, they had to cross another river (most likely the Kolpa river, see below).
The respondent remembers that the river had a strong current, which made it difficult for them to pass. After they managed to cross it, they had to jump over a fence in order to enter Slovenian territory. At the border-crossing point, the group detected a surveillance camera positioned in a way to record activities around the fenced area. Three to four hours after they entered Slovenia, while in a forest, the group was attacked by a police dog.
“The dog came to us and bit the bag of my friend and then [makes a hand gesture indicating that they had to run] we started running.”
The respondent’s friend left behind his backpack. By doing so, the group managed to escape from the officers. The respondent described that, approximately four hours after the first police contact, the group was detected again by police at a turning area in the forest (approximate location: 45.478597, 15.298622).
“First we didn’t see the police but when the police caught us, the policeman said to me ‘I was seeing you before.’”
The respondent stated that the Slovenian officers arrived with a car blocking the way of the group and surrounded them with 4 cars and around 15 officers. He claimed that 1 police officer pointed a pistol at the group and shouted:
“’ey stop don’t move, don’t move or I shoot you’. I told them ‘yes shoot, shoot, no problem. I am not moving.’”
The respondent remembers that there were police officers behind them with five dogs. He described the breed of the dogs as follows: two Malinois, two Rottweiler, and one dog similar to a German Shepherd.
“The police talked to me ‘sit on the ground like this [shows crossed hands behind the head]. And at the beginning, the Rottweiler had a muzzle but then they [the police] take it off.”
The respondent stated that the police officer was keeping the dogs on the leash but suddenly let it go a little bit and then abruptly pulled the dog back again. Sitting on the floor the group was reportedly beaten by the officers with police sticks, kicked and punched all over their bodies. The respondent was badly hurt at his knee and his back and therefore had problems walking afterward (see photos).
The respondent described that he was begging them to stop. He says that when the police did finally stop, they let the group kneel down and put their hands behind the backs, and then took photos. The respondent remembers the officers congratulating each other saying “bravo, good job”. The officers at the apprehension point were wearing green uniforms similar to army uniforms, about three policemen wear blue uniforms and caps, and about 6 to 7 wore civil clothes. The respondent could not describe all the police cars but at least one of them, which was a blue police van that then drove the group for about 1.5 hours. During the ride, the group was reportedly exposed to high temperatures and reckless driving, involving erratic braking and accelerating.
The group was brought to a place in the forest described as follows: “It is not like a police station; it is more like a caravan.” There, everybody had to give their fingerprints. When they arrived at the “police caravan” it was around 6 pm on the 31st of May. According to the respondent, the officer took his phone, his watch, and a golden bracelet. The group had to spend the night at that place sleeping on the floor. They were given some hard bread and a milk bar per person to eat. The respondent explicitly asked in the name of the group for asylum in Slovenia.
“I asked him [the policeman] what are you going to do with us? He replied ‘Maybe we bring you back to Bosnia and maybe you go to Ljubljana’ I say him please I need asylum. I don’t want to go back.”
The respondent explained that, on the morning of the 1st of June, the group was transported by a police car with windows. At the Croatian border, the group had to step out and was handed over to the Croatian police. Before that, the Slovenian police reportedly made them sign a paper.
“We asked him ‘for what is this?’ and he said ‘don’t care, sign it, sign it.’”
According to the respondent, from the Slovenian-Croatian border, the group of 4 was transported in a white van without windows in presence of Croatian police officers. From the description of their uniforms, it is most likely that they belong to the Croatian border police and the Croatian Intervention police. During the approximately 2-hour ride, the group were again forced to endure reckless driving in the van. The van stopped very close to what was described as a “police room”. The respondent could not describe the place and the wider environment further because the van was parked so close to the door that it was almost impossible to recognize anything. They described it as not being part of a police station or a complex of more rooms. The room was empty and they had to wait there for 4 hours. Again, they had to sign a paper they could not understand as no translation was provided.
Afterwards, they got back into the same van. They were driven by two officers in blue uniforms to the Croatian-Bosnian border, where the pushback would occur. The respondent said that there were two more officers in the Croatian Intervention police uniform with ski masks waiting at the border.
“They opened the van and say ‘hey go!’ and after 10 or 20 meters they say ‘go faster’ and then like this [mimics hitting with something] they hit with police stick everywhere on the body.”
From the location of the push-back, the 4 people had to walk back around 12 km to Velika Kladuša (45.1262860,15.7828800).