Oussama Bourkhis, a 27 years old Algerian man died while trying to cross the Bosnian-Croatian Border

Two weeks ago, a young Algerian man died after his attempt to cross the Bosnian-Croatian border. Volunteers of Border Violence Monitoring met his friends who witnessed the incident and desired his story being made available to the public.

Name: Oussama
Surname: Bourkhis
Age: 27 years old, exact date of birth is unknown
Place of birth: Skikda, Algeria

What happened?

The group of 10 men from Algeria started in Izačić, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The exact date is not known, probably between March 28th and April 1st. The incident happened about 20km east from Otočac, at the north-west end of the national park Plitvička jezera. At 3 am in the night, the group saw a light and assumed that it was the police. They ran away and suddenly heard Oussama screaming when he fell into the hole.

After that, 2 of the group walked around 14 km to the next village, where they explained their situation to a Croatian women around 12 am. She called the police that arrived 20 minutes later. As an excuse the police told them that they had to wait for a train to pass at an intersection. The Police also ordered a forest-guide to come. The group witnessed the forest-guide taking preparations to recover the dead body (9 hours after death).

The police brought the rest of the group (9 people) to “a garage” in Croatia (distance approximately one hour by car), which was full of urine and where they had to stay for 3 nights. Afterwards they were brought to the detention camp in Trilj for 10 days. The next step was the deportation to Bosnia, Croatian police let them out of the car on the Bosnian side near the town Bihać on the 11.04.2019, they arrived around 8 pm in the center of Bihać.

Treatment by the Croatian police

During the whole process, none of the refugees experienced physical violence from the police, but they still felt treated in a humiliating way. Regarding the previous decease of their friend, they didn’t feel that the officers reacted in an appropriate way. Instead of asking about the details of his dead, they were only asking the men for phones and money when arriving at the place of the incident. Their phones were either taken away or destroyed and their sleeping bags burned. In “the garage”, where police brought them after they arrived at the place of the incident, they had to sleep in a dark and cold place full of urine. Police took all the food from the refugees and only after 2 days they gave them a little bit to eat. They told them to smile in the camera during the process of taking pictures and made fun of them.

They all had to sign around 10-12 papers without any translation. The police officers covered the written parts of the paper with their hands, so that it wasn’t possible to read it, they just pointed at the parts where the people had to sign the documents. Also, the documents were all in Croatian language. None of the group has any documents because the Croatian police never gave it to them. No medical treatment was provided during the 14 days. The portions of the food in Trilj were really small and they also had to pay for them. All of them had to give fingerprints of all 10 fingers.

It is very unusual to keep people for such a long amount of time in the detention prison in Trilj. Most of the time it is almost empty because people are brought directly back to Bosnia. Possibly, Croatian police kept the rest of the group in Trilj to prevent that information about the incident reaches the public in time.

The refugees expressed their intenten to apply for asylum at the police station and the camp in Trilj in vein. Back in Bosnia, they want to transfer the dead body of their friend to Algeria and provide a dignified funeral.

Attached files

– Video of the hole
– Pictures of the hole
– Picture of Oussama Bourkhis
– Screenshot and coordinates of the Location where the incident happened