On Tuesday, the 28th of March, a group of 6 people was apprehended near the Croatian village Trnovi and pushed back to Hadžin Potok, a little village in Bosnia. The group was composed of 4 men from Morocco and 2 men from Algeria. They are all between 24 and 32 years old. The respondents are three of the Moroccan men who were part of the group.
They stated that they were walking in the forest in Croatia (near Trnovi) at 5am, when they saw 3 drones flying very close to them. A few seconds later, the lights of a car which was hidden behind the trees turned on, and the car quickly appeared from behind the bushes.
The respondents explained that 2 men came out of the car yelling: “Stop, stop, stop, police!”. These 2 men were described as wearing dark blue uniforms (with a logo on the arm), bulletproof vests and balaclavas which covered their faces. This description closely matches the uniforms and masks that the Croatian Intervention Police officers usually wear, as well as the EPZ subunit of the same police unit. The car was also described as dark blue, but the respondents could not recognise more details because the light of the car was pointing at them and they were blinded by it.
Reportedly, around 10 minutes later, 4 more people wearing the same uniforms arrived on the spot. In total, there were 6 officers present: one woman and five men. One of them was also described as wearing night vision binoculars.
The respondents stated that they were forced to stay approximately 30 minutes there with the officers. During this time, they were forced to kneel, and they were beaten by the officers with tree branches from the trees. The group also explained that the officers stole their money (more than 50 euros) and took the jackets and shoes they were wearing and all the belongings they kept in their bags and threw them in the water.
Afterwards, they recalled having to wear their wet clothes, as they had no other option. The officers took the food that was in the bags; they threw some apples at them, smashed the rest of the food, and threw it in the water as well.
The officers also smashed their phones with a rock, and kept their chargers and power banks. One of the respondents explained that he tried to hide his phone, but the officers bodychecked him and found it. When they found the phone, they hit him so hard on the face (with the phone) that they broke his nose, and he kept bleeding for about 15/20 minutes. They reported that after that they were forced to lay on the ground, while the officers were kicking them with their feet. At some point, the officers were even standing and stepping on them.
The respondents further stated that the drone was very close, and that in his opinion it was taking very clear pictures and videos of them.
After all this happened, they recalled that a dark blue van arrived to pick them up. In the van there were already 4 people on the move (3 adults and 1 kid), all from Syria.
The respondents explained that they were forced to get into the van with the other people, inside a structure that looked like “a cage or a box” (without windows). They were directly brought to the Bosnian border (but still in croatian territory), close to the Bosnian village of Hadžin Potok. The group explained that, first, the officers took the kid out of the van and made him cross the border. Then, they were forced to get out of the car one by one, and they were beaten again with tree branches for some minutes before crossing the border.
Finally, the officers left, and the transit group walked for about 4 km until they reached a small village in the area of Hadžin Potok, in Bosnian territory. There, the respondents explained that a group of people, that he identified as being part of IOM saw them, and they brought a car to pick up the Syrian family. The respondents had to wait from 8am until 5pm for IOM to pick them up as well.