The group of 15 had been walking through the forested hills of Croatia for four days, when they were apprehended by the Croatian authorities.
The authorities detected them near the roadside of the road M1, approximately 30 km north of the town of Slunj (HRV). They had been walking through a forest when they were observed at a short distance by two Croatian officers dressed in blue uniforms. They were ordered to stop and sit down. The group complied and waited while the officers checked their belongings and frisked them. The officers told them that they would be treated fairly if they co-operated now. When they took their phones, they told them:
“If you give your cell phone now you will get it back at border.”
Afterwards, they were led by the two officers to the road where a police car was parked. Shortly after, a van arrived, and they were immediately loaded into its backspace. The van was cramped and, they drove in this condition for over an hour.
When the van stopped, they found themselves in a semi-rural, hilly farmland area with some small houses in the distance. Six or seven more officers were waiting for them there, all dressed in blue, one of them was female. One of the male ones stood closest to the back of the van, wearing a balaclava and carrying a large gun at a shoulder harness.
“He had big, big gun. Look like Kalashnikov.”
As the 15 individuals began to exit the van, the officer fired three rounds with his gun into the air, just over their heads.
He then withdrew a black baton from the holster on his waist and began to attack every individual during exiting the vehicle. He used severe force, hitting them in the face, on the torso, arms and legs. One individual was struck heavily across the eye socket and nose, causing bruising and bleeding. The other officers stood back and laughed as the main perpetrator with the balaclava attacked them.
“The police sit more back and laugh.”
Afterwards, one of the other officers approached the group and gave them back some of their now destroyed phones.
“If you (people on the move) be good, we police be good with you, but they lie to us, they hit us and stole our phones.”
The group fled back to Bosnia to escape further violence, because once again the officer with the baton began to threaten, and even chased them. It was just after midday when they walked for an hour until they arrived back at the camp in Velika Kladuša (BIH).
One of the group sought medical treatment from the MSF field clinic for severe contusions and internal bleeding, a blood blister, below the right eye socket (see document and medication). The other individuals also suffered superficial injuries on arms and legs.