In this case, a group of four men, one Palestinian, three from Algeria and a single mother with her two daughters, of Iranian origin, were pushed back. The men were 28 to 46 years old. The age of the children was estimated by the respondent to be about 8 and 11. The mother herself could hardly be older than 28. The incident took place on November 9, 2020.
The men started walking together in Velika Kladusa, Bosnia and met the mother and her daughters later in the Croatian forest, only minutes before the police found the group in the woods.
At that time, they had been walking for 5 days into Croatian territory and found themselves about 35 kilometers from the Slovenian border. The respondent described that they left the D6 road and entered a wooded area in which they had walked about 4 kilometers before the police stopped them. A total of four police officers in dark uniforms were present. As it was during nighttime, approximately around midnight or one o’clock, the men could not see a lot.
“On your knees, sit down, sit down!” the officers shouted to make them stop.
The group was surrounded, and each member searched for their mobile phones. Then the men had to undress while handing over their money. The mother with her children was separated from the now naked men. But the children as well as the woman also had to hand over their jackets to the officers while they waited in the woods for the ordered police van. This endured about an hour in which one of the officers made a fire out of the jackets and backpacks of the people-on-the-move.
The respondent describes that one police officer was leaning to the police car, drinking whiskey out of a glass bottle, while he was making fun of the men kneeing on the forest ground. He insulted all their family members as well as the men.
“He said weird words. I don’t want to repeat them. But I can tell you it was without any respect. He insulted my mother, my sister, everyone. Weird words.”
At this point the officers were also hitting the men with up to two-meter-long branches that they took out of the woods.
“With the power that comes from the distance, they hit the big branches on our backs. I told them: ‘please stop. Can’t you see how thin I am? Please, please have pity. Pity, please.’ But they laughed at me and hit me even harder.”
After a while an officer received a call that the van to pick the men up had arrived. The group was forced to line up and walk to the police van. The wife and children were put in a separate, normal car. The two cars drove together to a place next to the Croatian-Bosnian border.
The drive lasted about an hour. During this time, the driving officers turned the Air Conditioning down to freezing temperatures, so that the men, dressed only in boxers and T-shirts, were freezing in the back of the van.
They stopped at a place on the border, around 3:00 a.m. in a spot where there was a kind of small lake or pond. The car with the wife and children in it, pulled over to the side where they were forced to leave the car. The respondent claimed that there were 13 to 14 police officers waiting for them. Most of them were wearing balaclava masks and black uniforms, from which they would have removed the badges to make themselves unrecognizable.
“And then the fight started. The first one had to go there. ‘Get naked!’ and then they hit him. After. The second one: ‘get naked’ and then bam, bam, bam. Next one: bam, bam, bam. It was like war.”
The men were struck on their whole bodies and onto their heads with batons, branches and fists. While they struck the men, they were insulting them. Even though the officers didn’t touch the children and their mother they were also insulting them. Plus, the respondent claims that the mother and her daughters must have seen everything that was happening from distance.
“Then they say us: ‘now swim’. They speak, go into the lake and swim. Just imagine. It was night. So dark and so cold. Then they started throwing big rocks in our direction into the water. Imagine. It was dark, the men had been drinking. What if a rock would hit my head?”
When the men got out of the water they had to walk over the border. The police officers fired several gunshots in their direction.
The indicated location refers to the point of apprehension, not to the pushback.