On the 6th of March, four young men, including one minor, all coming from Morocco, were walking in a forest in the interior of Croatia, attempting to transit through the country.
They had been in the forest for several hours already when a group of two policemen, wearing blue Croatian uniforms, stopped them at 1:00 am. The respondents described that the officers shouted at them: “Stop, stop! and sit down !!”.
At this moment, the initial group of four was split. Two started to run when they saw the police coming while the other two immediately stopped and sat out of fear. The two escaping men took different ways, so escaped alone. One of them was later deported to Bosnia-Herzegovina during the day after the two men in this report (refers to the end of the transcript) whereas to this day, they still have not heard about their other friend. At this point, the group of people being push-back turns to two.
One officer called for back-up from his talkie-walkie. They waited around 30 minutes and during this time, the respondents who were sitting on the ground, were violently frisked and questioned:
“From where are you?; How old are you ?; Why are you coming here?; Is there other immigrants?”
The respondents recalled that they could not fully understand the officers because they could not speak english nor Croatian. Moreover, with those questions, the police were also aware that they were dealing with a minor. The respondents reported that the police were haughty and mocking to them. During the frisking, all of the personal belongings of the respondents were taken (phones, money, power banks and the backpacks).
“The police were laughing after each answer we gave to them. They laughed at us.”
The vehicle which arrived was an official white police van. It arrived with one officer inside. Once the group was inside the van and it began driving, they recalled experiencing abrupt driving which made one of them vomit. The air conditioning was on during the one hour of driving in the windowless van. The two respondents were driven directly tp the border between Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, near Poljana (approximate coordinates 45.210948, 15.927609 HR) at at around 2:30 am. The exact location was described as being at the end of a path in a forest. When the van’s doors were opened, three policemen wearing blue suits were standing in front of it. According to the respondents, one was the van’s driver and one of them was wearing a ski mask.
The officers ordered the respondents to exit the van. There, the ski-mask-clad officer hit the two young men. He beat them with a baton and kicks to their bodies. The respondents described that he was targeting their stomachs, legs and backs. The marks were still present on their bodies during the time of interview. After what the respondents described as five minutes, they succeeded in running across the border, after which point the officers did not follow them. The respondents never received back their backpacks.
They arrived at Velika Kladuša a few hours later and found one of their friends initially ran when police caught the group.
In short, the person described what happened to him as follows : “I was alone, without phone, without my backpack in a village that I don’t know, on the 7th of March. Three policemen wearing dark blue uniforms, driving a 4X4 stopped me and told me to sit.”
A police van arrived with two other officers inside and drove him for ten reckless minutes to a an area of the border that the respondent was unable to locate. He just remembered to have been deported near a river in the forest and supposedly the same location as his two friends (45.210948, 15.927609 HR).
“The chief of police took pictures of me with his phone when I was on the van”
The same police layout as previous was described: three policemen wearing blue clothes including one with the ski mask.
In the van, the respondent was forced to undress: his jacket, jumper, shoes and socks were taken off and the officers threw them into the river. The man was dragged out of the vehicle and struck while on the ground by the three officers for several minutes. After this, the policemen carried him until the edge of the river, which they then threw him into.
The respondent reported walking five hours wet, without sleeves and barefoot to reach Velika Kladuša and his friends on the 7th of March.
“Today, we don’t have any news from our last friend”