On the night of 31st of August a group of three men, two from Tunisia and one from Morocco, aged 25-32 were walking near the town of Slakovci (HR). They had been walking for three days in the Croatian interior. Soon after their arrival in Slakovci, two Croatian police officers dressed in black detected the three men. The respondent said that the two officers called their colleagues and after some time two big white police vehicles arrived. The respondent recalled how the police searched the men and asked for their personal information, including country of origin and name. The young men did as they were asked. Subsequently, the police started to search through their backpacks as well.
One of the men asked for asylum and the police flatly denied him. When they finished the inspection, the police asked the young men to get inside one of the police vans brought to the scene. The young men were sat together in one vehicle while their back bags and phones were searched further by the police.
After the intial two responding officers, a further four had joined, making the total at the site of apprehension six. The three men who had been loaded into one van drove, in escort with the other van, to the town of Torvanik (HR). The driver of the van in which they were held drove very fast and rattled the vehicle about the road. After a twenty minute drive the vehicles stopped near the train station Zeljeznicki Kolodvor Tovarnik (32249 Tovarnik, Croatia). The respondent recalled how the van was parked next to an electrical fuse box stood by the roadside. The respondent estimated that this fuse box was approximately 600 meters away from the train station.
“It was near the Tovarnik station. It is exactly 600m away from Tovarnik station. This spot where they took us. The drive was very short, only 20 minutes. And on purpose, they drove very fast and didn’t care about us. How we feel while driving”.
After arriving to this spot, the respondent stated that the officers then began to unload the men from the vans one by one and confiscate their clothing and shoes.
“As soon as we were at the fuse box station, the border police called one by one, not all at the same time. That was strange for me, that never happened to me before like this. One after one, the first one was my friend. But we couldn’t see what the police was doing with him. Because we were in the car and the door was closed. So, we didn’t know what was happening. After I get out of the car, I have seen my friend’s shoes (of the first man) on the ground. I could recognize immediately the shoes of my friend”.
The respondent said when it was his turn, he could see the shoes of his friend on the ground and next to the shoes he found the backpack of his friend.
The police asked the respondent to take off his jacket and his shoes. The respondent followed the orders and gave everything to the officers.
The respondent asked for his phone to be returned, which it was. But the officers denied giving him back his backpack. One of the police officers tried to punch the respondent in the face, but couldn’t reach. The young man fled, running away from the attempted blows of the officer. He ran back across the border to Šid (SRB), but having had his shoes removed, was forced to do so barefoot. In total, he ran for 8 km.
The third man in the van was then forced to exit by the officers They coerced him also to remove his shoes and jacket. Four police officers started to beat him up. They kicked him brutally and pushed him to the ground. They kicked his face and back with heavy boots fitted with steel toe caps. While some of the police officers were beating the third man, the rest of the policemen made a fire and threw all confiscated backpacks and shoes, charging cables, money and other personal belongings in the fire.
“As the police were beating me, they made immediately a fire and I have seen how our clothes and back bags got burned… “
After the police were done with destroying the items, the third man walked back to Šid (SRB) barefoot and with no jacket on. The men state that the eventual pushback across the border occurred at around 23:30. When describing the treatment at the hands of the Croatian police, specifically the beating, the respondent stated:
“I was never treated like this before… It is horrible… They treat us like animals… As we don’t have any rights..”