The respondent is a 16 year old boy from Afghanistan who tried to reach Bari leaving from Patras on the overnight ferry on 26th November 2022, leaving Patras New Port around 5.30 pm. He arrived in Bari around 9 am on 27th November and was able to disembark from the ship and leave the port. He was walking down the street and approached what he thought was a taxi driver to ask for a ride.
The respondent reports that the taxi driver turned out to be a police officer or at least someone who worked closely with the police: in fact, instead of taking him to his stated destination, the driver took him to a police station (the respondent does not remember the name of the station or the place where it was located). When he was held at the police station he saw the same driver arriving with other people who were probably caught outside the port, and the driver interacted with the officers in the station in a friendly, familiar way that made the respondent think they were colleagues.
Some people that he refers to as Italian police officers asked him a lot of questions but without the use of an interpreter, so the respondent could not understand much of what they were saying to him. He further states that their manner was rough and aggressive, though they did not physically assault him. He was able to declare his age (16 years old) but later found out that they recorded his age as 18. In the police station, his fingerprints were registered.
The respondent reports that he was held at the Italian police station for around 1 hour and then taken back in the same ship that brought him in Bari, alone. He was not expecting to be returned so quickly, so he did not state his intention to claim asylum and the officers did not ask for it.
When he arrived back in Patras the respondent states that he was apprehended by some people he refers to as “port police officers”. They questioned him briefly and he told them he was 16, and it was at this time that he discovered the Italian police had recorded his age as 18: reportedly, the officers called him a liar and said that paperwork they had received from the Italian authorities demonstrated that he was 18.
After that, he was taken to the police station in central Patras, Achaea Police Headquarters (Ermou 95, Patra 262 25, coordinates 38.24547384544059, 21.737683404327985). He recalls that he was detained there for 6 days, sleeping on the cement floor with just a blanket. He was kept in a cell alone, but his door was facing the cells of others. He did not share a language with the people in the other cells so they could only communicate a little. He was given meals twice a day, biscuits in the morning and in the evening a cold meal. He says he had the perception that other people held at the station were able to pay for better quality food, but he did not have any money to do this.
Throughout the time at the police station nobody communicated with him using an interpreter. He was not released from his cell for exercise or fresh air, but on the third day he was taken to a doctor, had some blood taken and was given an injection. He did not know what the injection was. Finally, at the end of the six days, it seemed that his age was recognised by the authorities, as he was taken to the shelter for minors in Patras. He soon left that place and returned to the harbourside.