“ The officer told me he wanted to kill me, do you think he gave me water?”

  • Date and time: October 9, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Shtit, Bulgaria to Ahi, Turkey
  • Coordinates: 41.8260513, 26.3645659
  • Pushback from: Bulgaria
  • Pushback to: Turkey
  • Demographics: 3 person(s), age: 22-32 years old , from: Morocco, Tunisia
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: beating (with batons/hands/other), kicking, insulting, forcing to undress, reckless driving
  • Police involved: 10 Bulgarian officers, 2 female, 8 male, speaking Bulgarian, English and some words in Turkish.
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention:
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: josoor

Original Report

On 8/10/2021 at around 9 pm the respondent, a 26-year-old Tunisian man walked to Kapikule with a group of two other men, both Moroccan. The group arrived in Kapikule at around 11 pm, where they initially intended to use a truck to cross the border, but then changed their plan to hide on a train. They watched and waited for the train in an abandoned house near the railway. When the train arrived at around 3 am they got on the back of the train and hid in three different places. After the train had traveled about four kilometers and entered into Bulgaria the group were discovered by Bulgarian police officers using a scanner. There was one female and two male officers. 

The female officer was wearing a blue shirt with a yellow jacket and blue pants, the male officers wore civilian clothes with a yellow jacket. The respondent has identified the female officer as using this uniform:

Image 1: Uniform identified by the respondent

Upon being discovered the group expressed in English that they wanted asylum. The officers swore and screamed in the respondent’s face and threatened to slap the respondent. The group was then handcuffed with zip ties and loaded into the backseat of a green or blue Mercedes van and driven about 7 kilometers on an unpaved road at a high speed. 

The respondent has identified this van as the vehicle they were driven in: 

Image 2: The vehicle used by the officers who first apprehended the respondent’s group, Green mercedes sprinter

The car stopped on the side of the road and the group was left inside the locked car while another police patrol approached in a green jeep (Image 3). The group was then moved from the first car to the trunk of the jeep. The trunk of the jeep was about 1×2 m, and the respondent says it was locked and it was hard to breathe inside the trunk. There were four male officers in this jeep wearing Sacramento green uniforms with the Bulgarian flag on their arm and a logo on the chest (Image 4 and Image 5). 

Image 3: Green jeep identified by the respondent.
Image 4: Bulgarian border police insignia

 

Image 5: Bulgarian border police uniform

After this, the jeep drove the respondents about another 10 kilometers on an unpaved road. Their driving was reckless and they kept drifting to make the respondents hit the side of the trunk. They stopped about 900 meters before the fence and the respondent reported that they could see the fence from where the car stopped.

The officers proceeded to remove the zip ties and the respondents were made to strip naked, they were left standing naked for 20 minutes while the officers searched them and then their clothes. The officers took phones, power banks, bags with supplies, and 350€ from the respondents that they did not return. The only things that were returned were their shirts and pants, they were not given their shoes.  

The group were kicked and punched in the face by the officers, the beating lasted for about five minutes. They were asked, in English, where they were from and answered in English that they were from Tunisia and Morocco. Their answers provoked more kicking and swearing from the officers. The officers spoke in Bulgarian and English as well as some words in Turkish.

The respondents were then loaded back into the trunk and driven for about five minutes to a place with two male and one female officer. These officers were dressed in the same uniform but wore green jackets (same uniform but green jackets, same vehicle). They had another vehicle, the same kind. At this location the group was pushed to their knees, they couldn’t see the site as it was dark and the officers had turned off all the vehicle lights. 

The respondent reports that there was an opening in the fence big enough to drive a jeep into. Two officers blocked this opening and took the group one by one and kicked them and threatened to kill them, and then pushed them back to Turkey. 

The pushback site was by a river near the fence and there was a lot of forest on the Turkish side. It took the respondents group 6 hours to walk barefoot back to Edirne; they passed by the village Ahi.