On July 19 around 8:30PM, a group of ten individuals from Algeria began their transit attempt from Gradina (BiH) near the town of Velika Kladuša. The group walked for eight days in the forests of Croatia. They drank water from the rivers they passed and only ate once a day to conserve their food.
They walked during the days and slept at night in order to be able to navigate their way through the forests using the light of the sun. On July 27, they reached Highway 3 near the Croatian town of Fužine (see map below). They waited until 3:00AM to attempt to cross the road, however, when they tried to cross there were seven police officers who saw them. The respondent reported that they were dressed in dark blue uniforms and that they all wore black ski masks over their faces.
The police shouted “stop!,” and the group members obeyed the order. The respondent reported that the police were driving a white Renault Master van that had no windows in the back.
The police ordered the group members to enter the van and the police drove them 20 minutes to a police station.
“They drove military style; very fast and dangerous.”
At the station, the individuals gave their personal information and the respondent reported that they were forced to sign a paper that stated the police did not beat them.
For twelve hours they stayed in one room at the station. The police did not give them any food or water and they could not access the toilet. In the station, the police searched all of their bags and then returned them to the group. The police then ordered the group back into a van and drove for about an hour to the Bosnian border near the town of Šturlić (BiH).
They arrived near the border around 10:00PM and while the group members sat in the van, the police took their mobile phones, money and bags.
“When you say give me my money or my phone, they will beat you, so you should just go.”
There were twelve police officers at the border, the respondent reported that they were all wearing black ski masks. The police then called out the group members one by one. There were three officers standing outside the van and they were holding up flashlights. The respondent believed this was to blind them before they had to run through the officers who would try to beat them.
After passing through the first three officers who held up the lights, the group members then had to run through four or five more officers who hit them using batons, their hands, and their feet as the group members ran towards the Korana River on the Bosnian border.
From the border, the group members walked 25 kilometers back to Velika Kladuša.