A group of 4 men from Morrocco crossed the border near Bužim (BiH) and walked through Croatia for 6 days. The respondent claimed he was in front of the group because he had the phone with the maps. On the 6th day, while the group was walking next to a village, one person saw them and called the police, so they decided to move toward a small path in the forest. The group were in a hilly arear near to Osijek Vojakovački, on the border of Varazdin County in the north of the interior.
A few minutes later the group heard dogs barking, so they move faster toward the nearest highpoint in the forest (they were in the foothills of mount Gradec). Suddenly, eight police officers approached them. It seemed as though they had been waiting for them. They had two Belgian Malinois dogs (likely the ones heard earlier barking) and also parked nearby were 2 vans and 1 car with full equipment inside, such as computers, cameras and gloves. A further two officers were present – identified as the „drivers“ by the respondent – and wear reportedly in charge of the equipment inside the van. The eight officers that captured them were described as wearing green uniforms with balaclava masks on their faces, carrying kalashnikovs (matching the description of Croatian Special Forces.
The apprehension took place at around 06:00 – 07:00. One of the group managed to run away, reducing the captured group to three. When the respondent tried to run he was stopped by one of the officers wearing green uniform and was beaten with a stick on his upper arm and his back. The officers took his phone and checked it and saw that the respondent had some pictures of him while training kick boxing and when the officer saw that asked him to put himself „en garde“ and started to fight with him.
“He was big racist” stated the respondent.
Two officers with balaclava masks, with another officer with green uniform started to punch him. All three from the group that had been caught were beaten by the police officers. After a while, he fell down and police officers keep beating him using sticks on his legs.
„They beat me more because I had a phone and after they saw pictures of me in kick boxing“
When they stopped, the respondent asked to call an ambulance but police officers started to laugh. After that they took his phone and money, they connected his phone to the laptop that was in the vehicle to retrieve his data. According to the respondent, this was to check the maps he had used to navigate. They then asked the group to take off all their clothes also their underwear, and they took their money that was hidden in the underwear, around 300 euros in total from all three people.
While checking the phone the officers found also a picture of a group hiding in the forest and asked one of them to find that place, while the rest of the group (the respondent with another person) were put inside the van. One van was filled with them two and drove until a main road, while the rest of the police officers took another person to go to find this other group about 5km far from where they were and once they found the spot the police told him he is a good guy because he brought them there.
From 08:00/09:00 until 20:00/21:00 the police officers drove the respondent and his friend around and time to time they were picking more people, from Pakistan and Afghanistan mostly (who have been caught earlier) and putting them inside the van. The respondent states that the officers were driving in a bad way and putting them cold then hot air to destabilize them, adding that they were feeling lack of air because of too many people inside the van. He describes the inside of the van as equipped with two benches along the sides of the van, one in front of the other, in a way that people inside started to fall down or were chocking against each other because of the cramped conditions. By the time they had finished collecting people there were at least 15 people in the rear detention area.
At around 21:00 that evening, the police stopped the van near the border, an area north of Bužim (BiH), according to the respondent. The officers asked them to go out one by one and took all their belongings and burned it into a fire place – but “one officer was good and he gave me back my phone, maybe he saw my leg was broken” the respondent claimed. After that, the people were forced to walk one by one in line between two rows of officers, who beat them with sticks. The group continue to walk and had to spend two more days in the forest there (in BiH) because the respondent couldn’t walk.
The group reached Bužim, where they were stopped by two Bosnian police officers, one man and one woman, who wanted to bring them back in the forest. When they saw the injury to the mans leg they were under shocked and decided to call an ambulance. After that, the police officers left them there but the ambulance, which came around 1h later and drove the group to a tent built for Covid measures near the hospital of Bužim. There, the nurses called JRS (organization in charge of providing cultural mediator and medical follow up in USK). JRS apparently would not attend until the doctors sent them a picture of the injury of the respondent. When they finally arrived, they brought the respondent to the hospital in Bihać, where he was examined, xrayed, treated and after two hours was sent to be accomodated in TRC Lipa.