The respondent is a 22-years-old man from Morocco. On the 9th of April at 7:00 p.m. he crossed the border from Greece to North Macedonia together with three other men, two Algerians and one Moroccan.
After walking approximately 15 km into North Macedonian territory, six officers in black uniforms approached the group by running towards them and shouting at them to get on their knees. Reaching the group, the officers proceeded to beat and kick them whilst kneeling.
“I was just first of all on my knees, then they put me down and they start kicking […]”
This beating lasted a few minutes. The group members were then asked for their nationalities, which the two Algerians responded to with false statements, claiming they were Libyan and Palestinian respectively. The officers then brought them to where they parked their cars, made a phone call and three minutes later a van arrived at the scene. The respondent recalled that the van was either dark blue or black. The respondent indicated the place of apprehension to be here.
The group was made to enter the van, which had metal benches to sit for them in the back. There were two police officers inside the vehicle, one driver and the other one guarding them holding a rifle.
After a drive of 15 minutes, the respondent arrived at a place where there were a few white containers put up. There they were met by a plain-clothed translator, supposedly from Iraq. She was figuring out that the Algerians had lied before about their nationality, as she recognized their accent.
They then entered one of the containers, where a police officer in the same black uniform as the officers at the apprehension, took fingerprints and pictures and asked them to write down their names.
The whole procedure at this place lasted about half an hour. After that, the group was made to enter the same van with the same officers again and were brought to the Greek border in a drive of 10 minutes. There the police opened a gate in the fence and only told them to go back to Greece, which the respondent’s group did without resisting. The role of this gate close to the Greek village of Idomeni as a quasi-official pushback location has been analyzed in more detail in the Balkan region December 2020 report. Also since then, pushbacks keep being carried out at this particular location.
On the Greek side, the respondent and his group slept the night directly at the border. Waking up, they saw a lot of Pakistani people and also Greek police, which is why they were hiding for another day before taking the train back to Thessaloniki on the 11th of April.
At no point did the respondent or any other group member ask for asylum.