The group of four people from Algeria started “the game” from Velika Kladusa on the 25th of May. The 23 years old respondent and his friends are all between 23 and 24 years old. As the respondent told us, he had planned out the route on his own using google maps. At the border between Bosnia and Croatia, the group had to cross “a place with three rivers where you need to swim. The second river is normal, just up to the knee and the third also.” After they successfully crossed the river, they continued and in the end, they managed to cross Croatia without problems in six days, walking only during the daytime. Once they arrived at the Croatian-Slovenian border, they had to cross another river (most likely the Kolpa river, see below).
The respondent remembers that the river was having a strong current which made it difficult for them to pass it. After, they had to jump over a fence in order to enter Slovenian territory. At the border-crossing point, the group detected a surveillance camera positioned in a way to record activities around the fenced area. Three to four hours after they entered Slovenia the group was attacked by a police dog in the forest.
“The dog came to us and bit the bag of my friend and then [makes a sign with the hand signing that they had to run] we started running.”
The respondent’s friend left behind his backpack. In doing so, the group could escape from police officers. Approximately four hours after the first police contact the group was detected again by police at a turning area in the forest (approximate location: 45.478597, 15.298622).
“First we didn’t see the police but when the police caught us, the policeman said to me ‘ I was seeing you before.’”
The Slovenian police officers arrived with a car cutting the way of the group and surrounding them with four cars and around 15 officers. One police officer pointed a pistol at the group and shouted “’ey stop don’t move, don’t move or I shoot you’. I told them yes shoot, shoot, no problem. I am not moving.” The respondent remembers that there were police officers behind them with five dogs. He remembers the breed of the dogs as follows: two Malinois, two Rottweiler, and one dog similar to a German Shepperd.
“The police talked to me ‘sit on the ground like this (shows crossed hands behind the head). And at the beginning, the Rottweiler had a muzzle but then they [the police] take it off.”
The police officer was keeping the dogs on the leash but suddenly let it go a little bit and then abruptly pulled the dog back again. Sitting on the floor the group was beaten by the police officers with police sticks, kicked and punched all over their bodies. The respondent was badly hurt at his knee and his back and therefore had problems walking afterward (see photo).
The respondent was begging them to stop and when the police did, they let the group kneel down and put their hands behind the backs, and then took photos. The respondent remembers the police officers congratulating each other saying “bravo, good job”. The Slovenian police officers at the apprehension point were wearing green uniforms similar to army uniforms, about three policemen wear blue uniforms and caps, and about 6 to 7 wore civil clothes. The respondent could not describe all the police cars but at least one of them, which was a blue police van that then drove the group for about 1.5 hours. During the ride, the group was exposed to high temperatures and reckless driving, including strong brakes and uncontrolled acceleration.
The group was brought to a place in the forest described as follows: “It is not like a police station; it is more like a caravan.” There everybody had to give their fingerprints. When they arrived at the “police caravan” it was around 6 pm on the 31st of May. The police officer took the respondent’s phone, his watch, and a golden bracelet. The group had to spend the night at that place sleeping on the floor. They were given some hard bread and a milk bar per person to eat. The respondent asked in the name of the group for asylum in Slovenia.
“I asked him [the policeman] what are you going to do with us? He replied ‘Maybe we bring you back to Bosnia and maybe you go to Ljubljana’ I say him please I need asylum. I don’t want to go back.”
On the morning of the 1st of June, the group was transported by a police car with windows. At the border, the group had to step out and was handed over to the Croatian police. Before that, the Slovenian police made them sign a paper.
“We asked him ‘for what is this?’ and he said ‘don’t care, sign it, sign it.’”
From the Slovenian-Croatian border, the group of four was transported in a white van without windows in presence of Croatian police officers. After the description of their uniforms, it is most likely that they belong to the Croatian border police and the Croatian Intervention police. During the approximately two hours ride, the push-backed people suffered again reckless driving in the van. The van stopped very close to what was described as a “police room”. The respondent could not describe the place and the environment further because the van was parked so close to the door that it was almost impossible to recognize something. They described it as not being part of a police station or a complex of more rooms. The room was empty and they had to wait there for four hours. Again, they had to sign a paper they could not understand as no translation was provided.
Afterwards, they go back into the same van and were transported to the push-back place at the Croatia-Bosnian border. The transportation was carried out by two policemen in blue uniforms. At the border, there were two more intervention police officers with ski masks waiting.
“They opened the van and say ‘hey go!’ and after 10 or 20 meters they say ‘go faster’ and then like this (makes the sign of hitting with something). – they hit with police stick everywhere on the body.”
From the push-back-place, the four people had to walk back to Velika Kladusa around 7 km (45.1262860,15.7828800).