On the evening of June 6, nine Afghani men crossed the border from Serbia into Croatia near Batrovci after leaving from the Serbian town of Šid. They walked all night through the nature surrounding the E70 highway, and then stopped at daybreak to wait until it got dark again.
Around 4:00PM they heard the distant sounds of men talking. After a few minutes, two police officers arrived, with their uniforms being described by the respondent in agreement with that of Croatian intervention police. The officers immediately started to beat the men with their hands and batons, as well as kicking them. The men begged to be taken to safety in Zagreb, to which the officers’ only reply was “No. Don’t come back to Croatia.”
After a while the officers took the men to a nearby country road in a police vehicle, and upon arrival searched the members of the group one by one. They smashed all the phones and power banks they found (figure 1), threw away the food the men had brought, and confiscated a knife one member had taken with him to prepare food during their long days of walking.
At another point the officers asked the men who the boss was, to which the men explained they did not pay money for someone to help them cross, or otherwise the officers would’ve found it upon searching them, and they would’ve been in a vehicle in the first place. The officers, seemed unsatisfied with this explanation and responded by beating all members of the group.
Between beating them, searching them and walking them from one location to another, the police were with the men from 4:00PM until about 6:00PM.
“At one point they had beaten us for so long they were both tired. They took a 2 minute break and started beating us again.”
Their ordeal ended when they were picked up by Croatian police (uniforms described as matching regular Croatian police) and taken back to the Serbian border in a deportation vehicle. The police left them there there around 7:00PM, after which the men had to walk back to Šid for four hours.
The incident left several of the men with sustained injuries: even though this interview took place sixteen days after the incident, the respondent reported still feeling intense pain when doing any lifting. Another member of the group is still taking painkillers for a stinging pain on the right side of his chest, and a third was left with heavy bruising on both arms (figures 2 &3).