The respondent and two of his friends (all from Algeria) left Velika Kladusa, BiH on the 12th of February at around 6 pm. They walked in the forest crossing a waist-deep river and the Croatian border at 22.00. After entering the country they proceeded in the “Mala Kapela” forest walking in the direction west. Around 1 pm they encountered a street with a few houses on it. The respondent heard dogs barking in front of one of the houses and shortly after saw a man leaving the house with a flashlight. The respondent thinks that the local resident was the one calling the police on him and his friends. Scared about the police the group then decided to hide in the nearby forest.
Shortly after a group of 5 officers arrived at the site where they were hiding in, looking for the respondent and his friends with flashlights and dogs. The respondent identified them as Croatian police officers because of the uniforms they were wearing: blue uniforms with the word “policija” written on the back. Because the group split up and hid underneath leaves and branches the police was unable to discover them at first. The police left and the group stayed in their hiding places. 20 minutes later the respondent first heard and then saw a drone flying between the trees. Reportedly, the drone stopped right above him, revealing his exact location to the police.
After dragging the group out of their hideaway the police escorted them back to the nearby road and forced them to partially take their clothes off and to kneel down. The respondent and his friend related that they repeatedly asked for asylum, but the police did not react to their claims. Instead, the policemen started questioning the group that at that point was still on their knees asking them where exactly they where going and whether they were waiting for someone to transport them.
They did not believe the respondent and his friends when they explained they where going to Zagreb to ask for asylum and they where not going with the help of anyone but by walking. The policemen then proceeded to take the group´s personal belongings such as clothes, backpacks, powerbanks, phones and chargers from them. They meticulously searched the backpacks and then brought the electrical devices and chargers into the policevan that was waiting on the street. Some of the phones and powerbanks where taken and not given back, others where destroyed to a point where the respondent later was unable to turn his phone on.
The respondent and his friends where then put into the policevan that drove for an hour to a bordercrossing of the Bosnian / Croatian border in the middle of a forest. In the forest there was a group of 7 Croatian Intervention police officers waiting, wearing black skimasks to cover their faces. The Croatian Intervention police are regularly described as wearing black balaclavas and dark uniforms. The respondent and his friends were handed back some of their belongings at this point broken belongings and afterward, the Intervention police told them to walk further in the direction of the forest.
The group walked until they found a little road with an abandoned house on it, where they spent the rest of the night to protect themselves from the cold. The next morning the respondent stopped a car and asked the driver to point out the direction of Velika Kladusa to him, because he was unable to find the way back seen the fact that he had been left in an unknown place far away from a village or official border crossing without a working phone or any information about his exact location. The respondent and his friends had to walk an estimate of 30km to get back to Velika Kladusa.