The respondent is a 20-year-old man from Morocco. He was pushed back from Greece to Turkey on 14th March 2021 at around 9:30pm.
Around 1pm on 14th March, the respondent was in the urban area of Thessaloniki walking down a street.
He was approached by two male officers who he identified as belonging to the police due to their dark blue uniforms with Greek flags on the arm. They asked him for his passport.
Failing to produce this document, the officers placed him in the back of a car marked with a police sign on the side. Inside the vehicle, the officers began questioning the respondent as to where he was from. He answered that he is Libyan.
When the officers first encountered the respondent, they body searched him. They confiscated his phone, powerbank, and 30 Euro. These items were never returned.
The respondent states that he was then driven to a police station. This journey took five minutes. The respondent could not recall the name or precise location of the police station. However, he described it as “a big building.”
Based on the description it can be assumed that the respondent was brought to the Police Headquarter in Thessaloniki.
Police Headquarters “Megaro” in Thessaloniki (40°39’32.5″N 22°54’08.1″E).
They entered from the basement. The respondent documented that it had cameras and TVs inside.
The officers searched him again and then put him in a cell with two Pakistani men, until they were taken elsewhere.
Then an other officer, that the responded recalled to belong to the police, entered the cell. He began shouting at the respondent, demanding to know where he was from and threatening to beat him if he did not tell the truth.
The respondent insisted that he was Libyan and the officer started beating him. He used a baton and beat his arms and his legs while he was sitting on the floor. When the respondent covered up his face with his arms, the hits got stronger.
The officer was wearing a blue t-shirt, blue trousers and a mask.
The respondent wasn’t allowed to go to the toilet nor to have water. The officer did not let him have food.
No fingerprints or photographs of the respondent were taken. The respondent did not ask for asylum.
The respondent stayed one night in the police station. The next day the authorities took him at around 4pm. He was loaded onto a bus with 30 other people.
The inside of the bus was made of metal and had no seats. It had no doors on the side, just in the back. The back was grey and the front blue with “police” written in white on the front.
Everyone was made to queue before entering the bus. One officer told the respondent and the other passengers to look at the floor. According to the respondent, the officer said:
“if you look somewhere else I will kill you”
20 other people were already on the bus. They were from Afghanistan, Somalia, Algeria, and Morocco. Among them, there were 2 Somalian women, approximately 25-26 years old.
The youngest person on the bus was 18 years old.
All people inside the bus had to stand, as there were no seats. The way of driving was reckless, and people wound up falling against each other during the trip. The bus only had small windows.
“So many people were struggling to breathe inside this bus.”
The officers drove the group of people to what was identified as a police station near Komotini, however, the respondent describes the place as not resembling a police station.
”There is nothing, no writing, no blue color”.
The respondent said that inside this station the officers were wearing uniforms “greenish in colour.” There were five male and two female officers. They were armed with batons. Only the officer that drove the vehicle had the Greek insignia on their uniform.
They were kept outside the building. After two hours, the officers brought 50 more people to join the respondent’s group. Everyone was then loaded into two white buses.
“they were so many people, they were shouting like the girls were crying and they told them we are so many people you have to bring another van or something and they were just pushing them and pulling them inside.”
“they were threatening them they told them that you have to keep quite or we will just get you out of the car and we will beat you.”
They were driven to the Greek-Turkish border. The drive lasted approximately 2.5-3 hours. They were then escorted off the bus and taken to a river, however, the respondent could not give the exact location.
According to the respondent, 8 officers were present, however, he did not confirm they were police officers. They were wearing balaclavas and “greenish” uniforms. They were 7 men and 1 woman.
At the river, the respondent and other people apprehended were loaded into dinghies in groups of 10.
The boats were driven by 2 Syrian men wearing balaclavas, who told the group to remain calm.
“We will just cross you the river and try to be calm and to be quiet so they wouldn’t beat you.”
The correspondent was on the dinghy with people from Algeria and Morocco. They reached the Turkish shore around 9:30pm. When the respondent and his group saw officers, they recall to belong to the Turkish police, they went running away. They went to a village 5km away from the river and then called a taxi to go to Istanbul.