On September, 2nd, 2019 at 5.00, a 24 year old man from Morocco started his journey from Velika Kladuša, small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) close to the Croatian border. Accompanied by four other young men from Algeria, the man walked for several days with the intention of reaching Ljubljana, Slovenia.
After two days walking in the forest with a small bag carrying limited food and only one change of clothes, the transit group arrived near the border between Croatia and Slovenia, at the North of Sekulići (Croatia). That night, three police cars arrived with ten officers dressed in green and wearing ski masks. The police quickly approached the transit group. Other group members manage to run away ,but the respondent and one other friend were circled by the officers.
“They use binoculars. They put the cars and they hide.“
This initial seizure occurred in the early hours of 4th September between 03:00 and 04:00. The spot in which the two remaining group members (from now on referred to as transit group) were captured was described as forest, located on what the interviewee called “a mountain“, in reference to the steep woodland of the Croatian countryside.
When the two men were circled on the hill, an officer approached the respondent and pushed him down the slope, causing the respondent to fall directly into the trees and bushes where he injured his leg.
Recalling the assault, the respondent described how he was forcibly pushed to the ground, stating:
“One police push me and I fell on my leg“.
The transit group were then taken to a police station in a police car. The respondent didn’t know the location, but felt the transportation lasted between 50 minutes and one hour. According to the respondent, they arrived at this location at around 5.00. Inside the police station, the officers wrote down their names and country of origin , took his friend’s phone and all their money. The respondent was seen by a medic that checked his leg which was severely injured. They were not able to drink, eat or go to the toilets and were asked to sign a paper without understanding it. Recalling the procedure the respondent stated:
“I don’t know what I sign. No translator. He told me ‘signe et dégage’ [‘sign and fuck off’]. He did not let me read“.
The transit group were then transported in a police van to a point at the border with BiH, approximately 8 km from Velika Kladuša (BiH). The pair were forced to cross the border back into Bosnia. The respondent was feeling dizzy and limping because of his leg, and thus struggled to return. The day after (on 5th September), he met volunteers in Velika Kladuša who took him to the hospital, in order to be checked by a doctor and receive a dressing on his injury.