On the 20th of August 2020, in a train station not far from Zelenikovo, North Macedonia, a small group of persons were apprehended by state authorities. The group was composed by 4 young men from Algeria and Morocco, aged 16-24 – with only one minor present. In the previous days, the group had made their way through the North Macedonian interior from Greece.
According to the respondent, at around 8:00 in the morning on the 20th, three officers from what he inferred to be from Croatia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, as well as a single North Macedonia policeman (described as wearing clothes matching those typically worn by North Macedonian authorities) came approached and apprehended the group. The respondent described that he recognized the country of origin of first three officers due to seeing the flags from their respective countries, as well as EU flags, emblazoned on the officers’ uniforms.
According to the respondent, the officers bounded them with zip ties and after beat them with batons (apart from the minor, who was not beaten). He described that the authorities also took several articles of clothes and shoes from the men, and additionally took pictures of them.
The group was then loaded into a Land Rover, which reportedly had a Slovenian license plate, and driven for a period of around an hour before arriving to a police station near Gevgelija, North Macedonia. The group was not taken into the police station, but was kept outside in the car until they were transferred under the custody of three different North Macedonian policemen to a blue police van. These officers then drove the group to the Greek-North Macedonian border, around fifteen minutes drive. Before letting the group back into Greece, through a door in the border fence, the officers struck the group-members several times with their batons. It was about 10:00 am at this point.
After crossing the border, the small group found some shoes to wear and attempted to re-enter North Macedonia again the next night.