The respondent, a 45 year old Moroccan man, was apprehended with a 34 year old Algerian man after walking 3 days through Greece. The apprehension took place just before Xanthi in a small village in the early morning. Two officers caught the respondent and his friend, before calling two other officers to come. The first two officers wore green military uniforms and the other two were wearing civilian clothes. Two cars were involved in the apprehension – the first one was big and had ‘police’ written on the side of the car and the second car was a big civil van.
The officers were identified as only speaking Greek and English. They took everything the respondent and his friend had – phone, money and the rest of their belongings. “My friend had 120 euro they took the 100 euro and turned him back the other 20” explained the respondent. “They did beat us hard”, “with a metal stick”.
The respondent and his friend were given from the civil car to another and driven for about an hour to a detention centre, most likely in Alexandroupoli. They were met by at least 15 officers in blue Greek police uniforms, but the respondent explained there were so many he struggled to count. There were also several female officers amongst the total.
The respondent explained that they were detained for “days” in the detention centre. Definitely more than two. The centre was surrounded by a fence and in the middle there was a yard. This is where they were forced to undress and then sorted into a cell.
Inside the respondent’s cell, there were already 20 people when he was brought there and then another 20 were brought to the same cell, totaling approximately over 40. There were three women in the cell with their children, with the youngest child being about 2 years old. Nationalities included Syrian, Afghan, Sudanese, Algerian, Moroccan and Kurdish. The oldest was about 53 years.
All of the detainees had had their money stolen from them, and they were denied food and water. They were also refused medical help, even though one of the detainees was injured and in need of medical attention.
“We were screaming. We had 3 days of walking, and we were thirsty and hungry and they didn’t care” explained the respondent. They asked for asylum but “they don’t talk, they ignore us. We were yelling of hunger and water, they didn’t care”. When they asked for asylum, “they sent the officers wearing masks to beat us”. These officers were wearing green trousers and black jackets. The detainees were also not given a translator to allow them to understand what was being said for those that did not understand Greek or English.
In total the respondent spent 4 days in the cell, with others who had been there for 7 or 8.
Then, they were taken to the river. They were put into the back of a big truck. There were 50 people in the back of the truck the respondent was in. It took an hour until they arrived at the river, and were met by 6 more officers dressed in green camouflage military uniforms who only spoke Greek and English.
A small 2 metre-long boat was waiting on the river side when they arrived. “You can’t talk, you can’t make a move, even when you get in the boat you have to cover your head to not be hit with a baton over your head” recalled the respondent. They were taken across in groups of 15 to an island that was in the middle of the river. “We had to cross another river after being stuck in the island to get to Turkey” explained the respondent.
The first city they got to after crossing the river was Meriç. It took them 2 hours of walking. The pushback thus must have occurred just outside of Lavara.