In the early morning hours of the 16th October 2019 the group of three underaged boys tried heading into the interior of Croatia through border crossing on the E70 motorway, concealed in a vehicle. Shortly after passing the check point, the vehicle was pulled over and the loading space opened, exposing the group to three border police officers, dressed in dark blue uniforms. One female officer, not wearing a jacket, was dressed in a navy blue shirt according to the respondent.
Picked up by the officer’s searchlights they were swiftly ordered to dismount the vehicle, whilst the officers were taking pictures of the situation with their cameras. After the apprehension, the three minors were commanded into the border station and led into a detention room. The respondent shared that they did not resist the arrest in any form.
After entering the detention cell, the group was strip searched and relieved from everything they had in their pockets. This included mobile phones, power banks and a small amount of money. One of the officers pocketed the belongings and entered the next room, where the three minors could hear various other officers chatting. The boys were held for some while sitting in a coerced squat on the ground. Asked, whether the intention for asylum was expressed, the respondent denied:
“We didn’t talk, we didn’t talk. They didn’t allow us to say something.”
They were then handed over documents in Croatian and English, which they were ordered to sign. When the officer that had taken their devices returned from the other room the first round of beatings started. Still squatting they would receive a series of intense bashes and kicks to the heads and legs. The respondent, the day after the incident in severe pain, states that they would target the back of their heads and their ankles for a session of beatings that would last for over 10 minutes.
“They beat us and now we are hurt, we have pain […] in the head and the leg while we were sitting there [showcasing squat with hands over head] They were very angry, you know”
When the officers had finished they would leave the young men in one corner of the room and sit down in the other to play cards. After approximately 30 minutes the officers then got up and started the next round of beatings that did not last as long as the first, but was similar in its character.
After it ended, they were ordered to get up and led outside of the station. Here they were loaded into a white windowless van that consisted of a caged department, were they would sit in complete darkness. After a short ride of around three minutes they would be ordered to step down the vehicle at the Serbian side (Batrovci) of the same border crossing. The group received back their phones, that had been broken by the police allegedly during the time they were taken to another room at the border station, according to the respondents statement. The glasses were shattered and the plug entry for chargers and the slot for sim cards were disabled, as well as the sim cards taken.
They were then handed over to another police officer, which the men believed to be Serbian, who showed them the way back to the town of Sid. Making their way back to Sid on foot, they passed the long lines of cars that were waiting for border inspection. Being released in the middle of the night, they asked the drivers for food and received a few canned items from some of them, since they had just been relieved of what they packed for their journey.