On Sunday, October 25, 2020 a group of 52 people-on-the-move crossed the border to Croatia in the forest near the Bosnian villages of Johovica and Donja Vidovska. The group members ranged in age from 17 to 37, and except for one Tunisian, they all came from Pakistan.
After crossing the border, they walked for several hours through the hilly Croatian forest next to the border. They encountered a hunter in the woods, and a few minutes later were caught by police, who the respondent suggests may have been informed by the hunter.
When the ten police officers, nine men and one woman, approached the group at around 13:00, many of the group members tried to escape by running back towards the Bosnian border. Some five officers started running after the fleeing people to catch them and bring them back. About half of the men managed to escape, and the others were held by the police in a clearing [45.121738, 15.734681] close to Sadikovac. The police called their colleagues, who soon after arrived in a big white police van. The police officers present at this point were all wearing the dark blue uniforms, with a “MUP” insignia on their sleeves.
While waiting for the van to arrive, the remaining 25 to 30 people-on-the-move had to sit down. One after another they were intensively searched by the officers. All valuables, cell phones and power-banks were taken from them and stuffed into a large bag. A female officer hit the bag with the cell phones several times with her baton to destroy them. When the police asked for his phone, the respondent said he only had one; However when he was searched the officer found another mobile phone in his clothes.
All the people were stuffed into the van together. The first men to enter the van were handed the bag with the destroyed mobile phones. Because they were so many people, they had to squeeze themselves very tightly together inside. By the end of the 30-minute drive, they experienced breathing problems due to the lack of oxygen. The interviewee also said that the van driver was driving recklessly and the men were flung around inside the vehicle.
When the men arrived back at the border, which they crossed just that morning, they had to leave the van one by one and line up. In this spot were some more police officers, wearing balaclava masks covering their entire faces. The van driver informed one of those officers that the respondent had lied about his second phone.
The respondent was forced to sit down and one officer ran towards him, kicking him strongly in the torso. Another officer struck him five times with a baton, on his leg, knees, arms and lastly on his ribcage. The respondent described how he could not breathe properly and was gasping for air for 30-40 seconds after the last strike onto his ribs.
Lastly, the lined-up men had to walk, hands on their heads, back to Bosnia. When they arrived at the border, the Croatian policemen ran behind them, chasing them across.