On Tuesday the 5th of November 2019 a group of nine people crossed the border of Croatia from Petrinja, Bosnia. They made their way on foot walking for nine days through the hilly terrain of Croatia, heading north-west in the direction Slovenia.
On the evening of November 14th, around 18:00, the men were passing a narrow valley, somewhere in the Karlovac county. When they had to cross a section the road, they were confronted by two Croatian authorities described as “commando” units, because of the olive uniforms and balaclavas identified by the respondent (coherent with dress of Croatian Special Police). The officers were holding a dog on a leash. Upon apprehension by the two officers, the respondent turned to see a further officer of the same description (with another dog) approaching from behind.
The officers held the dogs on long leashes, and also held electric tasers which they threatened the transit group with. The officers told them to lay on the ground, face down, with their hands behind their heads. The respondent said the earth was very cold. While in this position on the ground, the respondent asserts that one officer used his mobile phone and made a call.
For the next hour the group was kept in this position lying on the ground, and were not able to move. The officers occasionally kicked the transit group and were laughing over the mens reactions. A white windowless van driven by a single person arrived. The nine men were quickly ordered to enter the caged back of the vehicle. The ride that took them to a nearby police station, lasting 15 minutes.They were taken inside, and the whole group was detained in a small detention room of around 2×2 meter.
When waiting for further procession, the group asked for water, or if they were allowed to eat the food they were carrying in their bags. Both requests were denied by the guards. They were kept in the cell for approximately 10 minutes, and then ordered out, one at a time to follow two officers into another room next to the detention area.
In this room the police conducted a brief collection of the groups data such as name, surname, nationality and age. The respondent stated that it was at this time, just before getting searched, that he asked the officers for asylum. Shaking their heads, the officer replied:
“No Asylum for you”.
No translator was present to explain the situation. The respondent was then relieved of his belongings. His backpack holding clothing and small rations of food, a mobile phone, a power bank, as well as the amounts of 150 EURO and 170 KUNA. All the confiscated items were noted down on a sheet of paper and put in a big plastic bag – that bag and note would later be handed to the driver that transported them to their push-back location.
The respondent was then ordered into the back of the same van, awaiting the other members of his group to join. After around 45 minutes. When the group of nine was completely loaded, the van set of on a journey that lasts around 1:30 hours, ending at the border of Croatia with BiH.
At the border one by one the group was ordered out of the van. When it was the respondents turn, he descended the vehicle, finding himself surrounded by five officers of the same appearance as the three that had initially apprehended the group.
He was shouted at, but the words he could not understand given they were in local language. He was struck in the head by the fist of one of the officers present and then ordered to remove his shoes. Then he had to undress to his under clothes. He was left in only underwear (thermal leggings) and a long-sleeved shirt. One of the bigger officers was wielding a long metal stick, described “like a baseball bat”. After receiving multiple painful swings to his knees and thighs, two officers grabbed the respondent, holding his arms behind his back. His legs were then stretched on the ground and battered with blows from the “baseball bat”. The officer specifically targeted the soles of his feet and his toes, smashing them over and over again. The entire incident lasted approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
The respondent, in severe pain and hardly able to walk was then pushed down the hill that the van had parked on, with the words:
This ejection occured on the late evening of 14th November 2019. The respondent stumbled down the dark forest slope until he reached a little creek, leading him to a dirt road. Not knowing where he or anyone else of his group was, he spent the night at the side of that road. Waking up the next day, still in pain and freezing, he followed the sound of cars nearby until he met a farmer. Asking the farmer about the way to Velika Kladusa (BiH), he was pointed in the direction and limp his way to the town.