At around 1 am on Thursday 16th September, 5 Afghan men attempted to cross the border from Serbia to Croatia at the Batrovci – Bajakovo border crossing. Three of the men were aged 14, 18, and 19 years, the age of the other two is unknown. The men secretly entered a truck at the Batrovci checkpoint in Serbia at around 1 am. The truck appeared to be carrying pallets of roofing materials, which the respondents hid behind. The respondents then waited in this truck for 9 hours with no toilet or source of drinking water. At 10 am the truck passed through the border crossing into the Croatian checkpoint at Bajakovo. Here it passed through the truck scanner, which the respondents identified on Google Maps.
After entering the scanner, two police officers opened the van. The police officers have been described as wearing light blue uniforms, consistent with the uniform of the Croatian Granicna Policija (border police). The officers asked for identification by shouting “come, come, ID, ID”. Communication was made in broken English, in which the respondents remarked that the officers did not speak very well, and in Croatian, which the respondents did not understand. The officers did not speak Pashtu, the language of the respondents, nor did they offer an interpreter.
After the respondents could not provide identification, the officers instructed them to get out of the truck. They then escorted them back to the Serbian checkpoint, where they were handed over to two Serbian border officers. The respondents were not given the opportunity to object to this treatment. One of the Serbian officers then escorted them over to a forest, where they were instructed to go to Adaveseci camp. The respondents then walked to the camp.
The respondents being escorted to the forest were captured on video by a passing truck driver, who uploaded the video to the app TikTok with a racist caption: “taliban spor v sofor spor macini sofor arkadas kazanmis” (“Taliban sports v driver sports match, driver friend won”. The video shows a Serbian police officer clapping his hands and gesturing towards the forest while walking behind the respondents. The video was then forwarded to the respondents by a friend.