The respondent is a 34-year-old Pakistani man that went on “game” with a larger group. In total, the transit group consisted of 17 men and one minor (17 years old) from Pakistan. They left Velika Kladusa, BiH in the early morning hours on the 22nd of May and started walking towards Sturlic, BiH. In this area, they crossed the green border into Croatia and kept walking in the forested areas in Croatian territory.
At around 6 am, the group crossed highway D1 in the area of Slunj and kept on walking in the forest on the other side of the road. After 2 or 3 kilometers the men decided to sit down and take some rest and wait for the strong rain to stop. While they were sitting on the ground, two police officers with one police dog detected the group and approached them. The respondent remembers that they were in the area of the village Slunjčica when the police stopped them. (Approximate location: 45.081674, 15.551296)
The respondent claimed that the police had identified his group through a binocular while patrolling in the area. He described how they did not see the officers at first because the police officers had taken off the batches of their dark uniforms which normally state the name of the police unit. These batches are written in white-colored letters and would therefore make them visible during the night.
“The white sticker was off [their uniforms]. So that we could not see them. Because the batch is white and you can see it in the dark, but so it was all dark. So we can’t see them from far away.”
As the two policemen were with a police dog, none of the men tried to run away, when they saw the police approaching them in the darkness.
“Because if police have a dog and you try to run away, then they will let the dog run after you. And the dogs are very big and very aggressive.”
The police searched the men and made them hand over their phones and power banks. Afterwards, the police made the group follow them. They were walking through the forest until they reached a gravel road which they then followed. The respondent insisted that the walk lasted for what felt like 2 hours to him.
“One is in the front, one is in the back with the dog. You can’t run. Also they took all of ours phones and powerbanks. There is no way to find the right way if you run away. You will get lost in the forest.”
At about 8 or 9 am, the group arrived at a place that the respondent described as an “army base place”. Trying to locate this place on the map, he estimated that it might have been on this location: 45.109871, 15.533213, where you can indeed see some bigger buildings in the forest (see picture). These buildings are about 6 kilometers from the place where he claimed that the group had gotten apprehended in the first place.
“One army officer came down and opened the gate. It was a big gate. It was army building, army houses like an army camp.”
Inside this place, the men had to hand over their bags and jackets. Which were piled up on the ground. Shortly after the men were put into a van and driven to the border with BiH. They left the van at a place in the forest where the Croatian-Bosnian border is formed by the river Korana.
“We left the van and then we saw a river. So, on one side, you have Croatia and on the other side you have Bosnia, and between is the water. Two canals.”
At this place, the men were awaited by several police officers that were positioned on different sides at this point.
“Let me explain you. There were many police officers. Three were standing on one side and three on the other side. And two were standing next to a black car that is usually with them. At first we weren’t allowed to see what is happening. But we could hear people scream. Scream very loudly, it was very terrible.”
Later the respondent found out that another group of Pakistanis had been pushed back at the same location shortly before them. And it was their screams they were hearing while waiting for their turn.
They then had to line up and were beaten several times on different parts of their bodies for about 10 minutes.
“They were beating us with the very long stick. From right to left. […] I think I was beaten 5 times. Everyody was beaten like 5, 7, 10 times.”
The respondent claimed that the man that was primarily beating them with the “very long stick” was not wearing a normal police uniform, but
“a very long raincoat. It was a very, very long raincoat. It was very strange. You know from the face to his feet a huge raincoat. And this guy was the worst. He did not wear a uniform. Just normal clothes. Like jeans and trainers.”
Allegedly, the stick that he was beating them with was not a police baton but a branch that they had taken out of the woods.
“This stick was too heavy.”
Before they were finally asked to walk back into Bosnia, the group was forced to squat down in a position that was described as a “duck-position”. Staying in this squat the men, all lined up, had to preform a duck-walk where they ‘walked’ like this for 20 to 40 meters. Meanwhile, the police were watching them and making fun of the group.
“We had to squat like ducks and then walk in this position. The police made fun of us, while we had to make a duck-walk.”
After they had crossed back into Bosnia, in the area of Sturlic (about one kilometer from a gas station), they started to walk back towards Velika Kladusa. Where they arrived at around 5 or 6 in the evening of the same day.
Upon their arrival in Kladusa, most group members went to the local refugee camp “Miral” to seek medical treatment. Only the respondent and one of his friends went directly back to the place where they were staying and were later seen by a group of medical volunteers, which examined their injuries:
“One male had a large tense acutely tender hematoma of the left calf with superficial bruising of the calf and thigh. He also had multiple small posterior scalp hematomas and wheals/bruising on his upper back in a cross shape, consistent with being recently struck with a linear object. The other male had superficial bruising of the thigh.”