The respondent, together with his friends, left the Bosnian town of Bihac to go towards Sturlic on the 12th of February. At this location, they joined another group of 30 people so they ended up as a group of approximately 40 people who crossed the border together. The group consisted of one family (the parents and two children of 6-7 years old) and young men aged between 15 and 25 years.
After walking for one hour in Croatia, it was nighttime, six Croatian authorities approached the group and surrounded them. The respondent as well as the others chose to kneel down. The respondent believes that if they had tried to escape, the police would have caught them and caused them a lot of problems.
Everyone was asked to introduce themselves and tell the officers their country of origin. They were also asked to reveal the ‘boss’ of the group. The respondent supposes that the authorities were looking for the group leader who guided the way. Nobody answered because ‘if we showed the boss, they would fight him or put him in prison’ the respondent claimed.
Then, the officers tried to find someone who speaks English. The woman, the mother of the family, said she spoke a little English. This made the officers put a lot of pressure on her to tell them who the boss was, according to the respondent. Then, another man told the officers that he spoke a little English so the officers suspected him. He kept telling the authorities that he did not know who within the group had a phone. In reaction to this, the officers started striking this man. Allegedly, they kicked and punched him several times. His nose ended up bleeding and the respondent mentioned ‘we all heard a bad sound when they kicked him.’
Afterwards, another man was separated from the group. One of the policemen had a conversation with him while he asked the others to keep their heads down but the respondent heard the conversation:
‘If you are Muslim you should go to Arabic countries, why are you coming here?’, the officer asked. The man answered: ‘We want to go to Zagreb’ but the officer told him: ‘You lie, you will take a ticket to go to Slovenia and then to Italy, you only want to stay here a short time and you don’t have a place in Europe’.
The authorities started to search all of the group members. The officers were wearing gloves and started with the mother of the family. Everyone, including one female police officer who, the respondent believed, was the boss of the other policemen, were looking at the male officer touching every part of the body of the woman who beforehand had to take off her clothes. She only had one shirt and one pair of trousers left and started crying. It was a very bad thing for all of us, the respondent remembers. After this, they strip-searched the children and took some of their clothes and, then, did the same with all the others. During this, all their money was taken from them.
Afterwards, two big police vans arrived, 20 people had to go in each van. They were driving for 6-7 hours. The police drove in a very reckless way, according to the respondent. Which caused some of the people to vomit while driving. When they reached the borderlands near the Lipa camp (Bosnia), everyone was told to leave the van. At this point, the officers searched them again.
Then the group walked back to Bihac. On the way, Bosnian policemen stopped them and told them to go to the camp in Lipa. The group then decided to change their route and walked back to Bihac on the railways.