At 13:20 on the 5th November 2019, three Croatian male police officers in navy blue uniforms apprehended the respondent and his group of five in the woods near the E71 highway at the give location – 45.092357, 15.223627 – near the motorway tunnel of Mala Kapela in the north of Lika-Senj County (HR). The group consisted of two Algerians and three Moroccans aged between 30-35 years old.
One officer fired his gun in the air once and then told the respondent that they had seen the group on their cameras in the woods. The officer who appeared to be in charge asked the group:
“where are you from…how long have you been here…do you have any weapons”
The officers searched their backpacks and confiscated all of their phones and power-banks. The officer in charge kept saying that he was the chief and that he would take the respondent to Zagreb:
“I asked them for ‘asyl’, and the Chief, he said yes…then he deported me”
After 20 minutes (at 13:40), the group in transit was loaded into a white Croatian police van (volkswagen Crafter) and driven away. The vehicle made a stop after 20-30 minutes to pick up another two groups in transit – seven Egyptians in one group, two Algerians in the other. The van drove for another 30 minutes to a police station in a “small town”. The van drove very fast and erratically (swerving left and right, stamping on breaks at random) and had the aircon turned up to the maximum. From the respondents statements it seems the group in transit was taken to police station: Ul. Bernardina Frankopana 19, 47300, Ogulin, Chorwacja.
At 14:30, the respondent and the other people held in the van (14 in total) were put into a small room (described to be not a cell) in the police station. The room was described as such:
“the room…it was so dirty”
There were lots of police officers in uniform at the police station. The group was allowed to eat and drink the supplies in their backpacks, and were allowed to use the bathroom. There were no procedures for asylum in the police station, the respondent stating:
“no procedure…no procedure…no paper, no picture, no talking, no nothing…we were always asking for ‘asyl’ and he said ok ok…yeah yeah ok ok no problem…and then at midnight we were taken to the river”
The respondent spent around 5-6 hours in the police station, from 14:30 until 19:30/20:30 (5th November).
Around 19:30/20:30, the respondent and 13 other people were loaded into a white Croatian police van by 2 Croatian police officers. They drove for 4 hours, stopping and starting a lot:
“driving and stop after 20 minutes…driving and stop after 10 minutes…I don’t know why”
At 00:00 on 6th November, the van arrived at the BiH border next to the Korana river close to Trzac, where there were around 10-15 Croatian officers in navy blue uniforms waiting with a fire ready. Describing their treatment, the respondent shared how:
“they took our bags, they took our sleeping bags, tents, jackets and food, and put them in the fire”
The location of the push-back was close the convergence of two rivers (Korana/Mutnica) at 44.995806, 15.784670. The police forced the group into the river, pushing them along a small damn that ran across the water and yelling:
“GO, GO BOSNIA”
“it was so dangerous…if you fell, you are dead…the river was so strong and it was so dark”
The group were in the middle of the river, following the wall which you could walk along, but was submerged under the water by which reached up to the peoples ankles.The respondent and his group crossed the first river and after 20-40 meters there was another stretch of the river which they could not cross because it was too dark and dangerous, and had to stop a night on the island seperated by the water.
“so we slept there, waiting for the morning to cross the second river…you can’t see anything and it was really cold”.
At 06:00 on 6th November 2019 the respondent and his group crossed the 2nd river (via a fallen tree) – entering BiH territory. They then walked one hour along the river (near main road R403b) to reach Sturlic (BiH). The respondent then caught a bus from Sturlic to Velika Kladusa, but some members of his group had to walk because they had no money. Some members of the group had to go to the doctor in Miral camp because they were so cold from the river.