The group of eleven left Bihać (BIH) by foot with the intention of moving towards Trieste (ITA). They took all their belongings, tents, backpacks, and dried food with them. During their journey, it was snowing and temperatures dropped to around -5 °C at night. After seven days of walking, they saw a dead bear in a Croatian forest. At the end of their tenth day of walking, the group slept in an abandoned house. Later in the night, a group of four Algerian people on the move also entered the same house to sleep. The day after the two groups continued their journey together.
On November 30, 2018, the 15 of them left the house at approximately 5 am. At around 9 am, a car with hunters drove down the road and stopped about 20 meters away from the group, a person looked into their rear mirror and drove away. The group kept walking. About an hour later, a police van came, fired a gun into the air four times, and stopped the group. Four of the 15 ran away and the officers fired again in the air, however they didn’t manage to catch them. The 11 remaining people were frisked by the officers, who were angry because of the escaped individuals. The officers had arrived with a large, white van with a blue stripe on both sides and a window in the back. They were wearing sky blue shirts and dark blue trousers.
The spot of apprehension was approximately five kilometers away from the Slovenian border and 40 km away from Trieste (ITA).
At around 2 pm, they were brought to a police station. Before entering the van, the respondent asked for their phones back, however the officer present instead handed them over to the driver of the van. The respondent remembered seeing a road sign saying “Rupa” on the way to the police station. There, the group was first brought into two cells, and then one by one were brought to a room with a yellow door and a blue number on it. The individual of the group who spoke the best English stayed with the officers to translate. Each of them was photographed, carrying a panel with a number on it. The respondent had number 2, the English speaking individual number 1. The respondent expressed his wish to claim asylum in Croatia, to which an officer answered:
“No asylum, camp is full, go back to Bosnia.“
The individual who translated filled out a paper with each individual’s information – name, surname, date of birth, country of birth, place of birth, name of mother, name of father and if they passed through Serbia or Montenegro, and then each interviewed person had to signed it. They were frisked again, and their money was taken as well as their phones and power banks. According to the respondent, he asked for food but was refused. Thus, he then asked them to take his money to buy food, but they still didn’t want to.
They stayed approximately three hours at the police station before leaving at 4 pm. After being driven for approximately 2,5 hours, they reached the border. However, it was difficult to know the exact time since they were sitting in the back of a police van without any phone or watch with them. While they were inside, the driver broke often and suddenly, and drove down a bumpy road which made people fall over one another in the back. Moreover, the air conditioning was on. One of the van’s doors had a caging. When the van arrived near the border, they stopped quickly at a police station. There they were made to sign three A4 papers and left again after 20 minutes. The papers were written in a language that none of the 11 could understand, probably Croatian.
Then they continued until reaching the border. When they got off the van, four officers were there, swinging their batons in the air and shouting:
“Go, go, go!”
They were all dressed in dark blue uniforms. The respondent asked for his phone back during while they were returning their bags, but as an answer just got beaten with baton. In total, the officers took more than €1000 and nine phones and four power banks from the group of 11.
After reaching the Bosnian side of the border, they walked back 16 km to Bihać (BIH) which took around four hours.