Two 16-year-old Afghans went on game by foot, late in the evening on April 3, 2019. They left together with 20 other Afghan people on the move, among them between five and ten minors, from the abandoned factory Grafosrem in Sid. They walked through the forest around 25 km in six hours until they reached the second gas station, Odmorište Spačva, on highway E70 after the city of Lipovac (HRV). There, they reported seeing a x-ray camera and a drone.
“There was a vrrrr camera. And private police in a black car was watching at us with binocular glasses. It was undercover police. The man had a red color face, very big and only hair on the sides.”.
After being detected, they assumed with the help of the cameras by the undercover officers, six police cars arrived within 10 minutes. The respondents describe the cars to have been four normal Croatian police cars while two were vans. There were between 20 and 25 policemen, described as wearing dark blue uniforms with a Croatian flag on the shoulders and black balaclavas. They were also two to three leashed and barking Rottweiler dogs. The officers asked all people to sit down. They asked one of the respondents if he was speaking English. He answered:
“No me Pashto, Urdu, pičku materinu!”
The respondent states that one other individual who was speaking intermediate English was forced to get completely undress. He got beaten with a baton.
“It was a very big fight.”
During the interview, whilst he was in Belgrade one respondent explains he visited a hospital:
“All body pain, go doctor.”
While the Croatian police were reportedly very violent and beating everyone with batons, another officer arrived. The respondents described this officer as wearing “military clothes”, with reported seeing a blue armband showing the European Union’s flag and the Frontex logo as well as the word Frontex written on it, they stated that on the back it said “Border police”. The respondents state that he may have been a Frontex officers when they are shown photos of Frontex officers during the interview. One respondent explains, that once this officer arrived, the Croatian police calmed down. This officer told one of the other officers to stop beating the respondent, due to his low age. The respondent said that he thought the officer was German due to his accent and his physical appearance:
“German police face, all body, me understand, all body is European Union, me speak ich lieb dich.”
They finally put 12 of the individuals into the police van, the rest of the group had managed to escape before the police arrived. The respondent explains that it was very cold inside the van and the driver was changing the speed of the car radically. He did this probably on purpose as they were on the highway where the speed is supposed to be pretty constant.
“Driver very big problem.”
Finally, the van arrived at the police station in Sremska Mitrovica (SRB) but none of the people on the move had to enter the police station. As some individuals had been eating biscuits and drinking energy drinks inside the van, the officers ordered them to clean.
Afterwards they were sent back to Sid by train.