The two Algerian men that were push-backed on October 19, 2020 from Croatia to Bosnia were first apprehended by two Croatian police officers the same day, at 03:00. At this hour the two men, aged 40 and 42, were in a park in a small unknown Croatian village. They crossed the Bosnian-Croatian border west of the Bosnian town of Bugar on October 18, 2020. The respondent estimated that they had walked about 14 kilometers into Croatian territory before stopping in the park to rest.
After the police apprehended the two men, they were taken to a “normal, small police station” nearby. In total they spent 5 hours at the station. During this time, they were interviewed by a Croatian official who asked them their names, countries of origin, etc. Their fingerprints and mugshots were taken. The men also had to sign a document, and although the writing was in both Croatian and Arabic, they were not given enough time to read it carefully. The interviewee described how he assumed that this would be the first step of his asylum application. When he asked the officer about it, the officer was repeatedly said “yes, yes asylum”.
Before and after the interrogation the two men stayed in a small room and were not given either food or water. They were not allowed to use the toilet, though the interviewee requested permission several times.
At about 08:00 on 19th October, the two men were put into a large police van. In the back of the van were another 8 people-on-the-move from Pakistan that were rounded up in the same night. The van then drove to the border next to Velika Kladusa (Bosnia-Herzegovina).
When the police officers opened the van at around 10:30, the people-on-the-move found themselves in a patch of forest. The interviewee describes that there was a total of 12 police officers standing in the clearing. All of them wore black ski masks and Croatian police uniforms. One by one, the people-on-the-move were forced to leave the van.
The first thing they had to do was to hand over their cell phones, valuables and money to the officers. The interviewee gave 250€ to an officer, who put it into his pocket. Afterwards, he was forced to strip completely naked, his clothes were put aside.
The interviewee described that he was told to lie down, his face pressed into the forest ground. One of the officers standing in a circle around him stepped onto his head with his boot. The officer stamped strongly on the respondent’s head, moving his foot back and forth on the head. Afterwards the men were struck with batons and fists individually while lying naked on the ground. During this, the police officers were insulting the men. The respondent estimated the time the officer struck him to be between 10 to 15 minutes.
Afterwards he was allowed to put his underwear and T-shirt back on. He waited, lying flat a few meters away while the remaining men were struck. The whole group then was forced to file up with their hands behind their heads and walk over the border back into Bosnia.
(Injuries from group members incurred during the attack at the border)