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They hit us when we asked for our stuff back and then took a lighter and started a fire

Date & Time 2019-06-13
Location Donji Furjan, Croatia
Reported by Border Violence Monitoring Network
Coordinates 45.06033589, 15.74214676
Pushback from Croatia
Pushback to Bosnia
Taken to a police station no
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 22 - 30
Group size 11
Countries of origin Morocco, Algeria
Treatment at police station or other place of detention
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 5
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, pushing people to the ground, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings
Police involved 5 Croatian police officers

A group of eleven men from Algeria and Morocco departed from Bihać (BiH) at 1:00PM on June 12. They traveled by bus to the border town Šturlić (BiH), where they found a squat to spend the night in before they attempted to cross the border into Croatia in the early hours of the morning on June 13.

They walked around four kilometers from the center of Šturlić, where they had slept, to the border at around 4:00AM. They looked for the best way to cross the Korana river that was about ten meters wide. They found a shallow place that they could walk through. They crossed into Croatia around 4:30AM. Once they entered Croatia they walked for fifteen minutes until the police caught them.

The group saw three male police officers who were patrolling the area on foot. The police were between the ages of 30-45 and were wearing black uniforms. The police said “stop,” which the men did and they put their hands on their heads.

The respondent believed that the police called more officers for support because within a few minutes two more officers arrived on foot. The group members lay on the ground in a single line. The five officers demanded the group members to give them their bags, which they did. The police also confiscated eleven phones from the group. The respondent managed to keep his phone hidden in a sandwich.

“One guy had his passport in his bag, when he asked the police for his stuff back they kicked him into the river that we were lying next to.”

The respondent claims that when others asked for their bags back as well, the five officers began kicking and pushing the group members. Three people fell into the Korona river as a result of the officers’ use of force.

“When we all asked for our bags back, [the officer] took a lighter and lit them on fire. Five of us were on the Croatian side of the border and six were already back in Bosnia. I hid the phone in my sleeve and made a video of the police burning our stuff.” 

Eventually the group members who were still in Croatia joined the rest of their group on the Bosnian side of the border around 5:00AM. They waited on the Bosnian border for two hours until the police left and the fire had died down and then they crossed the border again to check their burnt possessions before they returned to Bosnia and went back to Bihać (BiH).