A group of five individuals from Algeria, Morocco and Tunesia left Šturlić at 5AM in the morning of May 20st and headed towards Croatia. Soon after their departure, while crossing Korana river, one of their friends injured his arm and decided to return to Sturlic and from there get back to Miral camp in Velika Kladuša (BiH), so the five individuals continued their journey without him. They walked for 9 days through forests, avoiding bigger streets only using small forest trails. While passing by Rijeka (HR), the group tried to avoid the touristic areas in the forest because
“when there is tourists, then there is police!”
The respondent reported that after Rijeka, the group came across units of Croatian police officers three or four times, mostly while crossing bigger streets,
“but no problem, they say stop, I don’t stop, I run run run!”
They crossed towards Slovenia near the official border crossing point Pasjak (HR) and were apprehenden on a small road near Povžane (SLO) on May 29 around 9AM by 5 Slovenian police officers, around 10km before the Italian-Slovene border. Three of the respondent’s friends managed to escape, but he and one other friend were apprehended. Two of the officers are described as “Slovenian military”, with green-brown uniform, masks and “big guns, no small police gun, bigger”, 3 others as “Slovenian normal police” with dark blue uniforms and no masks, they arrived in 2 blue-white police vans. After being caught, the respondent and his friend were held on the forest ground for 30min with the “military officers” in their back pointing their weapons on them while the “normal police officers” were standing in front of them talkin on a walkie-talkie coordinating another van to come. While waiting for the car to arrive, the men were casually asked for their nationality and their age and were body searched by the regular officers, but as the respondent had hidden his money very diligently in his clothes, they did not find anything. They were also asked for their phones, however the respondent’s friend did not possess a phone and the respondent himself had thrown his phone away just before the officers managed to catch him.
“If they don’t have my phone, they don’t see my pins on the map, so I can try next time. When they tried to catch me, I threw it far far away in the forest.”
After around 30min, another blue-white van without windows arrived and the men were driven to the police station in Podgrad (SLO), 10 minutes drive from their point of apprehension.
At the police station, the respondent was stripped to his t-shirts and 200€, he had kept in his boxer shorts, were taken from him.
“I said: This is my money, they said: give me this!, I said: why?, they shout: give me this!”
The respondent’s friend was stripped as well, but the officers did not find any money in his clothes as he did not have anything.
The two men were detained in a small room without furniture together with eight or nine individuals from Pakistan. At around 1PM on the same day (May 29th), the man was interrogated seperately from his friend by 2 police officers and one 50-year-old translator whose accent the respondent described as Syrian. The respondent hadhis finger prints taken, asked his personal data and his intended destination, and even though his plan was to reach Italy, he said that he wanted to go to Ljubljana (SLO) and ask for asylum there. However, he assumed that the translator did not translate this intention to ask for asylum properly to the officers. Also, the respondent had to sign a number of documents that he was not explained the content of by the translator.
“He said: Just sign!”
The whole interrogation took approximately 30min. The respondent was brought back to the detention cell where he spent the rest of the day and the night on the floor.
“I know at 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock, I check the time and I know that my 3 other friends arrived in Italy long ago. I sit in the cell and think about what they do now in Italy while I sit here on the floor.”
The only food they were given during all of this time was plates of spaghetti at around 10PM in the evening, whenever one of the detainees knocked against the door, they were either ignored or answered with much delay.
At 10AM the next morning (May 30st), all detainees were put in one van and driven 30min on a normal street to the border crossing point Starod (SLO) where they were handed over to Croatian police officers who put all of them (around 20 individuals) into a prisoner van.
They were driven for 10min to a police station in Croatia where they again were stripped and put into a detention cell. When some of the detainees asked for food, the officers sold them 3 small sandwiches for 60€ and 3 packages of cigarrettes for 50€. Again, all detainees were interrogated one by one, this time however without any translator present. The respondent was asked his personal data, pictures were taken of him and had to sign documents in Croatian without being explained the content. The whole group stayed in the detention cell until 6PM in the evening of the same day and were then put into a windowless van with more individuals and three Croatian police officers with black uniforms sitting in the front. They respondent reported to be locked in the van for six hours while the van was driving non-stop with a break of a couple of hours.
The whole group arrived at the point near Sturlic (see map) around 1 o’clock in the morning of May 31st. There were two more police cars with five more police officers wearing nightsight goggles, masks and the same black uniforms as the three who were sitting in the front of the prisoner van.
“They open the door and say: Go, go, go!”
The police officers were standing on both sides of the door forming sort of a tunnel towards the Bosnian border that the individuals had to pass while being kicked and beaten with black batons from both sides. The individuals crowded out of the van all at the same time and tried to get their belongings that were piled up a few meters further. All phones had been destroyed. After the whole procedure, the respondent and his friend walked towards Šturlić.
The respondent and his friend took a taxi with other people of Turkish nationality who were pushed back together with him and drove back to Velika Kladuša where he went to Miral camp.