“They made a fire with all our personal belongings in front of us”

  • Date and time: February 4, 2020 00:00
  • Location: Katinovac, Croatia
  • Coordinates: 45.23392736898767, 15.920847375363175
  • Push-back from: Croatia
  • Push-back to: Bosnia
  • Demographics: 4 person(s), age: 20, 22, 25, 27 , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), pushing people to the ground, water immersion, pouring water over one's head, forcing to undress, destruction of personal belongings, theft of personal belongings, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 4 Croatian officers wearing black uniforms ; 2 Croatian Special Forces officers, 1 official van ; 6 officers green jackets, black pants and ski masks, 2 official van
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: photos taken
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

A group of five Morocan men in transit tried to reach Trieste (ITA) by foot. They were aged respectively 20, 22, 25, 27 years-old. The transit group left Velika Kladuša (BiH) on 2nd February during the night. On 3rd February, the group was walking near to Sisak (HR) close to a river (45°28’53.6″N 16°21’03.4″E HR) when two male Croatian authorities saw them. 

Shortly afterwards at approximately 17:00, the transit group were seized by four policemen wearing black uniforms (with “police” on the back). One of the officers shouted “sit down, sit down! ”. The group immediately stopped and sat down in the middle of a field where they had been spotted. One of the police officers called backup. The group in transit reports one policemen taking a picture of them and of the place where they were.

The group of respondents spent a long time waiting without any information from the officers. They were forced to stay sitting, surrounded by the four officers who were ignoring them.

After what the respondent felt as 30 minutes, one official police van arrived at the location. Two policemen wearing green uniforms, supposed by the respondent to be Croatian Special Forces, were in the vehicle and got out to frisk the group of the respondents.

They put our power banks, money and phones in a bag at the front of the vehicle

After, the two Croatian Special Forces took each respondents by the collar and “threw” them into the van. The officer shouted at them:

    “Go to the river!

At this point, the two Special Forces officers went into the van to drive it to another place with the four respondents inside, while the four previous policemen stayed around the place where the group were caught. The group in transit report reckless driving in a van without any windows where it was particularly cold. 

After what the respondent felt was one hour of driving, the van arrived:

in a border in the middle of nowhere, near to a river

( approximates coordinates 45°14’02.3″N 15°55’12.9″E HR).

One officer opened the van’s doors. The group in transit saw six policemen wearing green jackets, black trousers and ski masks. They also recall two police vans parked around the same place. The respondent shared that the two officers who drove the van stayed in it. 

One of the ski-masks-officers ripped off clothes and backpacks from the group to set it on fire in front of them while there were forced to watch it, stuck in the van. 

        They took our jackets, jumpers, shoes, backpacks and made a fire with it in front of us

After the started of the fire, the van’s doors were closed by one of the officers. The group supposes that their telephones, power banks and money which was taken previously was kept by the authorities because they could not notice the bag used to keep it among the amount of personal belongings that were being burned. 

After what the respondents felt was roughly five minutes of waiting, the doors were opened. 

An officer in a green jacket grabbed one of the respondents by the collar and violently threw him to the ground at the edge of the river.

This officer remained crouched near to the respondent, waiting for the other three group members. The group report the same treatment for the two first of them. Alternately, the two last group members were also beaten with a tree branch (by three others officers) after being abruptly tossed down by the river bank. 

Those ones [the others three officers] had trees on their hands and beat me and my friend with it, on the arms, on the back, on the neck and on our face

When all the respondents were at the river’s edge, the officers (the respondents are unable to remind the exact number of policemen at this precise moment) pushed all of them into the river. 

        when we was on the river they said us ‘go, swim and fuck you !!’ 

The group in transit had to swim against the river flow late on the night on the 4th of February; forced by the Croatian authorities to go back in BiH at a deep section of the Glina River. They eventually reached the other bank very wet. 

After what the respondents felt was five hours of walking, at roughly 03.00 in the morning (5th February), they arrived in Velika Kladuša (BiH) soaked and without any shoes nor jackets or jumpers.