The respondent is an Algerian man, he did not wish to disclose his age. In June 2022 he left on foot from the village of Karaagac close to Edirne with four other Algerian men. They reportedly crossed the border and walked six days undetected through the forest. They did not notice (see nor hear) any signs of technology such as drones or surveillance towers. On the sixth day they reached the city of Xanthi in Greece, and were following the main road into the city when they were reportedly apprehended by what the respondent identified as six Greek police officers in dark blue uniforms in two cars described as white Nissans with blue writing on them saying ‘POLICE’. Accompanying those two cars was an unmarked white van described as a Mercedes. The respondent could not describe their clothing further as he said they were immediately forced to lie on the ground and were not allowed to look up. The respondent recalled that the officer who apprehended him did not beat him, but he saw to the side of him that his three friends were being beaten by the officers who had apprehended them, using their hands to slap them. The four men were reportedly searched and their phones and money were taken.
The respondent then explained that they were loaded into the unmarked white van where approximately 25 people were already waiting inside – the respondent described them to be of Syrian and Moroccan origin. Nobody was hand-cuffed or had their mobility restricted in any way. They were reportedly transferred to Orestiada police station where they were taken into a large cell. There were already approximately six people inside and the group who were being taken into the cell now amounted to approximately 30 people, meaning there were around 36 people in the cell in total, including women and children. The cell was described as very dirty with nowhere to sit or rest. They were reportedly not given access to food or water and the respondent saw that people who asked to use the toilet were beaten with batons by the officers present in the station. The respondent stated that there were many people present in the station dressed in what he described as standard Greek police uniform or army fatigues. They were held there for approximately 10 hours and nobody was fingerprinted or photographed, they did not have to sign any documents, and they were not able to ask for asylum. Anybody who asked questions or made noise was reportedly beaten with a baton.
At approximately six or seven o’clock in the evening of the same day, the group were told to leave the cell and were taken outside where a big, dark green army truck was waiting. At this point, more people had been brought slowly throughout the day so the group amounted to approximately 60-70 people in total. The respondent recounted how they were all forced into the back of the truck but there was not much space meaning they were cramped in next to one another. From that truck, the respondent could see that other trucks were arriving, he assumed from other detention sites along the border, and the group all together then totalled at approximately 200 people across the different vehicles.
The respondent stated that all the trucks drove to the riverside of Evros on the Greek side. They were reportedly told to get down from the trucks and lie on the floor. At this point, the perpetrators present were individuals described as wearing army uniforms and carrying guns. The respondent could not give more detail as they were beaten with batons if they tried to look up. He noted that the described army personnel were not wearing any balaclavas or face coverings. With them were three people dressed all in black wearing balaclavas who the respondent described as being Syrians working with the authorities as he recognised their accent when they spoke. These three people reportedly began loading persons into three dinghies which they had with them, with approximately 10-12 persons per dinghy being driven by the three third-country nationals in all black and balaclavas. In these small groups they were ferried across to the Turkish side of the river. Shortly afterwards they met the Turkish Jandarma who allowed them to return to Edirne.