The respondent started his journey to Italy together with 18 other people, starting in Sarajevo, BiH. The group consisted of 5 women and 13 men, most of them under 20 years old. From Sarajevo, they took a car which brought them to Vribica, BiH. From Vribica they continued by foot to Sajkovic and Bosansko, BiH. In Bosanko they went to buy some food before they walked towards Croatia. To reach Croatia they choose to cross the Dinara Mountains, which the respondent described to be very steep and difficult to cross. Actually, 10 members of the group voluntarily returned to Bosnia, because the journey was too hard for them.
After the remaining group had passed the mountains, they continued on a road to the city Kovačić, Croatia. In the following days, it was raying a lot so that they could not continue their journey. Therefore, they decided to rest and hide in the forest for three days. After the three days they had finished their food and all the water they were carrying in their backpacks. To buy food, the group members continued to walk to the city Knin in the southeast of Croatia (44.046458, 16.203386). While walking on the main road D1, they were stopped by a police car. Masked policemen stepped out of the car and asked them where they are heading.
The group members were forced into the police van and transported to an abandoned house in an unknown location outside of town. At this house men and women got struck by the police officers. Then the group entered. Inside of the house the men had to stand in one corner, the women in the other. Men and women had to remove their clothes and to hand over all their belongings (including phones, powerbanks, food) to the officers. Women were allowed to leave on their underwear, while the men had to remove it.
The respondent stated that the moment of taking out the clothes in front of the police officers and the other group members was really embarrassing for him. The group members had to throw their clothes in one corner of the room, where it was searched by the officers. The women were hiding the important documents in their underwear, so the officers did not find them. The respondent reported that, before going on “game”, he sewed a 500 Euros worth traveler check into the seam of his shirt. Nevertheless, it was discovered by the police officers. Before, the group members did not make use of that money, because they explained that the risk of getting caught by the police, by exchanging the traveler checks, was too high. After the clothes have been searched by the officers, the group members got back their jackets and trousers, while the officers kept the other valuable things.
The respondent was the best English speaker of the group. Therefore, he was regarded to be the group leader. One officer took him behind the building. At first, the officer shared a cigarette and a coffee with him. The respondent describes that he took some sips of the coffee, as he was really thirsty since they did not have access to drinking water for some time. The officer asked him who of them was the group leader. When the respondent answered that he did not know, the officer got violent. He grabbed the respondent by his collar and threatened, that if he would not answer, he had to go to jail for 10 years.
He tried to explain to the officer, that his good knowledge of English does not mean that he is the group leader. After some time of verbal exchange, the respondent was allowed to go back inside. In the night the police officers brought the group to the Bosnian/Croatian border, in the area close to Bihac, BiH.
At the border side, there were two other police cars, which had dogs inside. After the group members got out of the car, the officers told them to walk very fast to Bosnia. After some minutes the group saw police dogs running after them. While trying to run away, the sister of the respondent fell down to the ground. The respondent tried to help her up. By that one police dog bit him in his lower back. He was lucky to wear a big jacket so that the teeth of the dog did not touch his flesh. The group continued running. Some other group members fell down. As the dogs were still behind them, they tried to stand up quickly to continue their run. Actually, one police dog attacked a group member and bit into his leg. Another member fell and injured his leg. But, as the injured persons did not have any other opportunity than trying to escape the dogs, they continued running. It took the group members 6-7 hours until they reached the city of Bihac in the morning. They were really exhausted, as they had to run for a long time and did not carry any water or food with them. On the day of the interview, the group member with the injured leg was still unable to walk.