On November 8, 2018, the group of 65 left at around 1 am from an area outside of Velika Kladusa and walked towards the Croatian border. When they reached the border after four hours, around 5 am, they slept in a forest. Later, they walked again for about one hour until they came upon a road around 15 km north of Velika Kladusa, on the Croatian side of the border. The group rested on the side of the road for just one or two minutes before what they described as a light green, jeep-like “army car” with either five or six officers drove towards them. This car was soon followed by another, similar car with another six officers.
Most of the group tried to escape by running into the nearby forest. The officers shouted:
One of them fired a gun three times – two shots in the air and one in the ground, towards the general direction of the group. Most of the group stopped running.
”All people they catch.”
The officers then called for backup. While they were waiting for it to arrive, they took photos and videos of the individuals. Afterwards, they were loaded into vans, and brought back to the border. The vans were very crowded, with approximately 25 persons crammed inside.
At the border, they had to get off the van five by five. The officers locked the door after every five and beat them.
“They beat very badly.”
The respondent describes that upon exiting the car they faced four officers wearing black masks in a line:
”Every 3 meters or five meters there was a police officer.”
During this exchange, one of the officers screamed at him:
“I am a Croatian police officer, I am crazy!”
Asked, if the individuals asked for asylum in Croatia, the respondents remarked:
”No we didn’t ask because every time before they did not give us.”
The respondent described how they could only see the noses, eyes and lips of the black-masked officers. One of them was described as quite big. When the respondent’s friend had to get off the van, he tried to avoid the punches when the officers approached him and begged them:
“Please, okay, okay, don’t beat me.”
Despite this, three officers beat him on the back of his head and on the sides of his body, hitting him so strong, that he fell on the ground.
After the beatings finished, several of the officers shot guns in the air twice, shouting:
The respondent remarks that the officers were very angry.
It was late the following evening when the group was left at the border close to Velika Kladusa. On the road back, a Croatian woman talked to them. The individuals asked if she could bring them back to Kladusa. After one hour she came back and some individuals went with her, but she demanded a payment of 5 EUR per person for the ride.
When asked if he talked to his parents about what had happened to him, the respondent replied:
”No [I won’t tell them about what happened in Croatia] because if I told them that they beat us they would be very emotional. I don’t want to make my family emotional. Because I am emotional, no problem, but why make my father [and] my mother [emotional]?”