The respondent, Abdelaali Fahem, a 30-year-old Algerian man, was the victim of a chain-pushback from Slovenia to Bosnia along with eight other men from Algeria. During the pushback, the respondent suffered a violent attack from a police dog that left him with a severe wound on his right ear.
On May 1st, after ten days walking from northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina, the respondent and his fellow travelers were in Slovenia, a mere ten kilometers away from the Italian border, near the city of Trieste. The respondent states that they were probably somewhere between the Slovenian cities of Koper and Kozina. He remembers that they were on a smaller “dirt road” near a highway.
It was around 5:30 pm when the group saw a woman in a black Audi parked at the side of the road. As the men had not eaten anything for several days and were thirsty, they approached the woman to ask her for food and water. The respondent claims that initially, he had been waiting at the side while his friends spoke to the woman in the car. After a while, he joined the other men. He presumes that this woman called the police because only a few minutes later, a large group of Slovenian authorities arrived at the location.
After the description of the uniforms, the respondent claims that 25 police officers and four members of the Slovenian military arrived at the spot. At first, the authorities surrounded the men and told them to kneel on the ground. The respondent claims that the officers then individually struck the men. The respondent was the only group member separated from the others and taken aside.
This officer had a big dog on a leash. The respondent says that the officer spoke to him, and at one point started to scream at him. His dog, a ‘kind of Rottweiler’, had been pacing close around the respondent’s neck for a while and eventually broke loose, because the officer let go of the leash, and attacked him. The respondent emphasizes that the officer deliberately lured the dog to his neck and actively unfastened the leash of the dog, knowing what would happen.
“I will never forget these minutes”
The dog bit his ear so hard that a significant piece of the flesh fell off, which the dog reportedly swallowed. Through and during the attack, the respondent also severely injured his back while trying to evade the dog.
Although the respondent was bleeding profusely and crying for help, the officers did not call his dog off. The respondent states that instead, the authorities laughed at him and made fun of him. After what he estimated as about three minutes, the authorities called the dog off. At the same location, they started taking pictures of the respondent in his blood-stained clothes lying next to the dog. They then brought the nine men to an official vehicle. In total, they spent thirty minutes at this location before leaving at around 6 pm.
The officers drove them to a nearby police station, only a couple of minutes away. Our analysis of the respondent’s description of the first location and the police station indicates that both the police station in Koper and the one in Kozin match his description.
Although the respondent does not remember in great detail what happened at the station—he claims he kept fainting because of the pain in his ear and back—he does remember that the officers brought him to a nearby medical center, where the wound in his ear was closed with 13 stitches.
Back at the police station, the officers reportedly took pictures again of the respondent next to the dog that had attacked him only some hours before. One of the officers, in particular, was rough with the respondent, pushing him around, handcuffing him, and laughing at him. He says this experience of humiliation was very traumatic, compounded by the fact that he was in severe pain, repeatedly fainting, and wearing bloodstained clothes.
All of the group members were subject to an interrogation about their countries and regions of origin and the names of their family members. Their pictures and fingerprints were taken. In the end, the men had to sign an official document. Even though there was an Arabic-speaking translator present during the whole interrogation, the respondent claimed that he did not understand what was happening due to the pain of his severe wounds, as well as the lack of food and sleep. He does remember, though, that he explicitly asked for asylum, but received no answer to his demand.
The group members spent the night at the Slovenian police station. They were handed water and a small portion of food but remained in detention.
Early the next morning, the group was transferred to a police vehicle that drove them to an unknown city in Croatia. In this city, the group visited a medical center to get tested for Covid-19. Only after the respondent asked did the medical staff change the bandage on his ear. In the medical center, the Slovenian authorities did a handover of the group to the Croatian authorities: they called each of the men by their names and then one by one, handed them over. After this, they were transferred to a nearby Croatian police station. At this station, there were several Croatian police officers that brought them into another police van.
From the Croatian police station, the men were driven for several hours directly to the Croatian-Bosnian border near Velika Kladusa in Bosnia where they arrived around 5 pm. The men had to wait several hours inside the vehicle until it was dark outside. Then they were told to leave the vehicle one by one and asked to hand over their phones and power banks to the Croatian authorities, who then instructed them to walk over the border into Bosnian territory.
Even months later, the respondent remains severely traumatized by the dog attack. He repeatedly has dreams in which he gets attacked by dogs and generally is afraid of dogs. Additionally, he still has pain in his back that prevents him from moving his back properly and says he still is unable to sleep on his side due to the pain in his ear.