On the evening 14th of September a group of 44 minors and adult men were deported from Croatia to Bihac. The primary respondent for this testimony was a thirteen-year-old boy who was accompanied in the group by his two brothers – 16 and 17 years of age respectively. At the time they were caught in the forests of Croatia, they had been walking for four days.
The respondent described that eight officers wearing all black uniforms and black masks – the respondent referred to them as “commandos” – apprehended the group in a forested area. They were beating the group-members after they caught them; they beat two men who had tried to escape particularly badly. The boy making this report and his sixteen year old brother were not beaten, but the 17 year old brother was beaten and described that his entire body was in pain, though the beating did not leave any marks. These officers ordered the group to stop and afterwards called for backup which arrived after some time in the form of a van.
The police who arrived as backup were described as wearing dark blue or black uniforms, distinct from those worn by the initially apprehending officers. According to the respondent, they loaded the entire group into a single van and drove back to the border. The respondent described the van as incredibly cramped.
The drive was described as taking approximately two and a half hours, after which time they were brought to a secluded area of the border near Bihać. It was still dark when they arrived. There, the police carrying out the pushback confiscated many if not all of the personal belongings of the group-members. For items of value, such as mobile phones, cigarettes, lighters, and chargers, the police were described to have set them aside to pocket. For items of less value – such as bags and backpacks and remaining contents like food – the officers reportedly threw them into a pile and lighting them on fire. After this, the group-members were told to walk back into the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which they did and then proceeded to make their way back towards Bihać.