The group of seven men set off from Velika Kladuša (BiH) and walked for 10 days through the Croatian interior, later being apprehended by Croatian authorities in a forested area near the Croatian-Slovenian border on March 26th, 2019.
Three Croatian police officers, whose faces were covered be ski masks, were described as bursting out of the forested area in which the group was moving through and shouting “stop, sit down, sit down!”. The officers had their guns drawn and aimed at the group. The respondent described being very scared and that the group did as they were told.
The officers soon after demanded the group-members’ phones. Upon receiving them, the officers forcefully inserted a lever device into the power connectors of the phones, rendering them broken. The group was questioned about their age, whether anyone was a minor, and where they came from. The group-members were then ordered into a line next to a van at which point the three officers took a selfie with them. The respondent remarked that the officers laughed and insulted the group during this time, and that he felt humiliated.
The officers then corralled the group into the back of the van, which had no seats, where 15 other people-in-transit (who had previously been apprehended) were already waiting. The respondent described the van as being very cramped, remarking that he felt sorry for the women and children in the van (who were part of the group present in the van when he arrived in the back). The group was tired and thirsty. While being transported, the officers drove erratically resulting in the people in the back being thrown about by the inertia and getting sick.
The group of now 22 persons were dropped off around 10 to 15 kilometres south of Velika Kladuša, in the region of Đurin Potok (approximate coordinates 45.1072483, 15.7787256).
The officers did not provide the group with water or directions, but just told them that they were not welcome and must never come back.