The group of 30 Pakistani men concerned in this incident had been travelling for three days, having left from Bosnia and Herzegovina to seek international protection in a safe country. The respondent suggests that while crossing through a small village, composed of three to four houses, a local woman had seen the group and called the police. The respondent asserts this occurred at approximately 04:00.
The group walked on a little further, at which point three policemen wearing pale blue shirts and dark blue trousers came out of trees. The respondent suggests that a number of other officers could be seen in the woods, attempting to look for other people in transit.
Upon spotting the respondents group, one police officer fired his gun in the air and some of the people in the group stopped directly, while some others tried to run away. However, the police officers were accompanied by dogs, which the police set upon the transit group, urging the animals to run at the people trying to escape. Three dogs with muzzles were used to stop one person trying to run away. No one in the group got injured, but they feared injury from the aggression of the dogs and their police handlers. According to the respondent, when the police caught the transit group, they used a baton to beat people, in order to prevent them from running away again.
The police gathered all the members of the group and took their bags, they also performed a frisk search of all of them. The transit group had to undress, and were only allowed to keep their underwear on. The police took phones and money, along with any other belongings that had monetary value. In the end, the police only gave the transit group their clothes back. At one point, an officer began asking questions to the group. He held a baton which he struck people occasionally with it, meanwhile scrolling through their confiscated phones,
“Checking all people bags, and after destroy all things, destroy shoes, pocket money. How you come, how are locations, who knows location, why? It is too much torture, why they must know location ”
“He think, ‘where is the boss?’ only seek ‘where is your boss?’
I said, ‘I don’t know’, police deport? No boss in this game. Beating people. ‘Where is your boss? Show me your boss!’ I said, ‘no boss in here, boss run away.'”
According to the interviewee, the main interest of the officer was to find whom in the group was in charge of smuggling.
One of the respondents was a minor. He was a 17 year old from Pakistan. He said he had stated his age verbally to the officer, but the police officer did not acknowledge his statement. The minor in question had initially tried to evade the police at the site of apprehension, but was instead caught and beaten (see description of assault above).
“My age is 17 but because you know small people stay here [in camp], but why? Why 17 year age , I am not a big age, I am under 18 age! They say police talk you no 17! 21, 22. It’s not original age, but Croatia police [says so].”
Then the police officers made the group walk to a road where two police vans were parked. They were detained on site for approximately two hours with this police team. Fifteen people were loaded into each van and were driven to the border, north of Banja Luka (BiH) by the Croatian officers. The two officers driving the vans were wearing the same blue uniform. The driving conditions were hard to sustain, and according to the respondent:
“It was very hot in there, and very difficult in there, and a few people going to nearly on the dead point. Too much problem there.
Yes have many people vomiting. Maybe 2 hours [drive]”
When the vans arrived at the border, different officers from those at the site of apprehension opened the doors and the group were ordered to go out one by one in a line. The officers were wearing black uniform with a belt and carrying a big baton, and the approximate number of officers present was eleven. The police were all wearing ski-masks with the exception of only one officer. The officers beat the transit group with batons and used dogs, setting the animals to run at them. The dogs chased the transit group at their heels towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. The group ran in terror, and many of the group members reported falling down and hurting themselves from impact on the ground. The respondent described the violence of the final moments of the pushback as follows:
‘Go out all people , one line, go one, go one, and open the door, stick and dogs run back all people. […] He say all people “go, go! Heide”, and after he is open the door the dogs run at the back of people. People fall down. All people, one, two person, broken his bones, shoulder, when they fall down.’