The transit group began their journey in order to cross the Greek-North Macedonian border on the 8th of September 2019. The group consisted of six people, one Palestinian, two Moroccans and three Algerians, ranging from the ages of 17 years old to 55 years old. The youngest person was from Palestine and the oldest was from Algeria. The respondent was also from Algeria. The transit group began their journey from Thessaloniki (GRK) where they boarded a train travelling north towards the border
The transit group disembarked and walked for two hours to reach the border, upon crossing the border and entering North Macedonian territory they continued to walk for approximately two more hours into the interior. The place marked on the map is an approximate location, the exact location being unknown.
The respondent explains that the group was walking at night (late evening on 8th September 2019) when nine officers discovered them and shouted ‘Stop! Stop!’ at the men. The respondent explains that he knew they were not the Greek police force as they were not speaking the Greek language. The police officers were on foot and are alleged to have found the transit group with the aid of night vision cameras.
“They use the cameras, so they can follow you when you walk. They follow you.”
The respondent explains that when the officers shouted “Stop!”, the two Moroccan men and the young Palestinian boy fled and escaped capture by the police. The three men from Algeria did not run. The respondent had a foot injury so was unable to flee. The police already had a man detained with them, somebody already from another transit group discovered elsewhere on the same night. The transit group now consisted of four men.
The respondent had no formal identification documents with him, however the other three men had passports and ‘cartia’ documents issued in Greece. The police separated the men who had identification papers from the respondent and took them away. The respondent was then left alone with the police and was not told where the others were being taken to.
“That’s why when the police shouted ‘Stop! Stop!’, I stopped. Most people have told me: ‘If they stop you, don’t run. If you do, they will treat you with the bad way’. But even when I didn’t run, they still treat me in a bad way. It’s the same.”
The police officers checked the respondent’s pockets and found 500 euros, which they took along with his bag that contained his clothes and food. The police beat the respondent using batons and kicked him. They used an electric taser to shock the respondent as well. The respondent alleges that the officers were wearing Frontex uniforms and explains that some of them were wearing balaclavas. He explains that if you looked at the officers faces who were not wearing the balaclavas, they would push his head down and hit him. After this, the police officers took the respondent to the border and pushed him back to Greece.
“They take me to the borders and said, ‘go outside, go to the Greece again’. Nothing, they left me with nothing. They took even the cigarettes, phone, money, clothes, food. Everything. Even the card that I have to get free food from a charity in Greece. They take it. They left nothing.”
The respondent walked from the border, into Greek land, for seven hours where he found a bus station. The respondent explains that he found a Greek police woman who gave him food, cigarettes and money. There was another group that was at the bus station as they had also been stopped by police. They gave the respondent money to buy a bus ticket back to Thessaloniki.