The group of two men and 1 minor from Iraq left from Bosnia on the night of January 20, 2019, at 6 pm and crossed the border Croatia with the intention of continuing to Glina (HRV) to take a bus:
“We were walking in the forest before we reached the bus station.”
The snow was high in the forest and as they walked it reached up to their chins. After walking several hours, the respondent, a 15-year-old minor, described seeing a police patrol:
“I saw a police patrol, they were searching the area and [we] turned around from the police and went down into the forest.”
When the police left, the group went back to continue walking on the road they had been on previously. But shortly after, the group came upon what was described as “police camp” at approximately 1 am. In the middle of the forest, the authorities were camping in tents, waiting for people on the move to pass by:
“They had their own tents, waiting for whoever comes around”
The respondent had been walking at the head of the group, and he described that perhaps he was walking to fast at this point which put some distance in between him and the other individuals. When they passed through the tents, the officers heard their footsteps. Two officers exited their tents and with their guns drawn they told the group to stop as stated by the respondent.
When the officers told them not to move, they froze. The respondent laid down in the snow, one officer approached him and kicked him in the face. The respondent described how the officer put his shoe on his face, got on his knees and placed his gun on the respondent’s right temple. This officer was described by as being big, around 32 years old, around 180 cm tall, his head shaved on the sides with short hair on the top and wearing a dark blue uniform.
The 15-year-old respondent expressed, that it was the first time anyone had ever pointed a gun at his head and that he was terrified:
“He didn’t even ask about [my age], from the first time he came, he beat.”
Then, the officers checked his phone and saw that the respondent had GPS data pulled up. After this, they searched his belongings. The three of them didn’t ask for asylum as they didn’t get the chance to do so.
“They never gave us the chance to ask for [asylum]… the officers started to beat [me] and kick with their shoes.”
The same patrol that the group had successfully evaded before, arrived to the scene in a van with three officers. Shortly thereafter, another van arrived with one officer as claimed by the respondent.
The people on the move had to enter the second van, which then took them back in a 30-minute drive to the Bosnian-Croatian border at approximately 2.30 am on January 21. When they arrived back to the border, there was one car and two officers waiting for them. The respondent recounted that the two officers also wore dark blue uniforms and had their faces unmasked.
The three of them had to get off the van one by one. The respondent was the first. He was told by one of the officers to come closer. The officer then broke his phone, returned it back to him, and told him that Velika Kladusa was twenty kilometers away.
The three of them then attempted to walk back to the camp but since their phones had been broken, and they didn’t have access to GPS, they got lost and didn’t find their way back until 7 am the next day.