At 6 pm on the 18th of May a group consisting of 56 men, aged from 20 to 50, and four 16-year-olds of different nationalities started their journey from Bosnia trying to reach Italy. They began walking towards the mountains east of Bihać, Bosnia, where part of the border between Bosnia and Croatia lies. It took the group 9 hours to reach Croatia, crossing the border at 3:00 in the morning.
From there on, the group faced many difficulties related to the weather, so that their journey was significantly delayed. It took the group 2 and a half days to reach road number 1 in Croatia. As stated by the respondent:
“…That 2 days is very fast raining, and we cannot fast going. Go slow slow, little little, 5 kilometers we go, then we seat, 5 kilometers we go, then we seat. Very fast raining, no good to go…”
Shortly after crossing the road, the group was surprised by a group of 9 police officers who were patrolling in the area. They pointed their flashlights towards the group and ordered them to stop. They asked them what they were doing in Croatia and told them to wait at the location. Some police officers took phones, chargers, and powerbanks of the group members, while a few others left to get two police vans.
The respondent and his group were forced to get into the back of the vans. There were 30 people in each van. Squeezed together the group was then driven to the border. The drive lasted around 2 hours. During those hours, the people were exposed to really low temperatures and ended up feeling dizzy because of what was described as a very reckless way of driving and the lack of any room to move.
As they reached the Bosnian border, the group was forced to take the backpacks and all their clothes except their pants and shirts off. The officers then proceeded to make a pile with the clothes, the jackets, and the backpacks and burnt everything in front of the respondent and his group. Afterwards, the police sprayed pepper spray at the whole group and then proceeded to hit them with batons as they told them to go back to Bosnia and never try to cross the country again. The respondent claimed, that the beating was so strong that, over a week later 2 group members still have difficulties walking properly due to pain in their legs.