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"When you try to look at them, they put your head to the floor"

Date & Time 2020-04-09
Location Gevgelija, North Macedonia
Reported by Anonymous Partner
Coordinates 41.13043152, 22.55344391
Pushback from North Macedonia
Pushback to Greece
Taken to a police station yes
Minors involved no
WLTI* involved no
Men involved yes
Age 30 - 30
Group size 1
Countries of origin Morocco
Treatment at police station or other place of detention denial of access to toilets, denial of food/water, denial of medical assistance
Overall number of policemen and policewomen involved 12
Violence used beating (with batons/hands/other), pushing people to the ground, pepper spray
Police involved 8 police officers (Czech and EU insignia), 1 police van and 4 Macedonian police officers

The respondent is a 30-year-old man from Morocco. On the 4th of September 2020, he and his friend (another Moroccan man aged 28) attempted to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, near Gevgelija.

Shortly after entering Macedonia, the respondent was detained by eight police officers “near the railway tracks” at 1:00pm. They arrived in vehicles described by the respondent as “blue police cars.” The second man fled; his whereabouts are still unknown.

“Maybe they saw us before we were crossing the border. As soon as we crossed the border, they came directly by car and arrested us.”

According to the respondent, the officers were wearing dark blue police uniforms that had Czech and EU insignia. All of them were wearing Balaclavas and many were armed with guns. The respondent believes were Frontex. 

“When you try to look at them, they put your head to the floor,” he commented.

The respondent was pushed to the ground and beaten by four of the alleged-Frontex officers with fists and batons, which were made of metal. He sustained extensive bruising on his arms, knees and his arm was broken.

The respondent was then placed inside a blue, windowless van and driven to a police station. The journey lasted five minutes. Given this travel time and the site of respondent’s apprehension, he was presumably taken to Gevgelija Border Police Station.

Upon his arrival, the respondent was transferred to the local Macedonian police. Inside the building, the officers did not take his name or fingerprints. The respondent was taken to a sperate room and told to sit down on the floor. He was alone. Despite his injuries, the respondent was beaten for a second time by four Macedonian policemen in blue uniforms. He described this violence as “too painful” and reported that the officers “broke his hand.”

His subsequent requests for medical assistance were ignored.

After the assault, the respondent remained inside the room for ten minutes. He was then loaded into a police van by the same officers from the station and brought directly to the Greek-Macedonian border. This journey lasted five minutes.

The officers opened the door of the vehicle, pepper sprayed the respondent in the face and pushed him back across the Greek- North Macedonian border. The respondent could not verify the location precisely, however he stated that it was “by a big road” close to the Evzoni Border Station.

With a broken arm and hand, the respondent walked for two days back to Thessaloniki.