During a check of a cargo vehicle registered in Bosnia-Herzegovina on the Obrežje border crossing with Croatia, Slovenian police and customs officers rescued on Tuesday 13 citizens of Iraq who had been transported in a secret compartment in the vehicle. Some of them required medical attention due to lack of air and dehydration.
As the vehicle was stopped at the border crossing for a routine check, police and customs officers found out that the vehicle was modified, and that it contained a secret compartment in which the Iraqis were being transported illegally. They were taken out of the vehicle and provided first aid on the spot. Two persons needed to be taken by ambulance to the local hospital, the Novo Mesto Police Department said in a press release on Wednesday.
It added that the foreigners had been running out of breath, with some of them already losing consciousness. They were severely dehydrated and very scared. The 13 persons rescued included two children aged eleven and six.
Investigators subsequently established that the Iraqis had entered the vehicle in Bosnia-Herzegovina with the diver’s help, and that they had travelled from there to the Slovenian-Croatian border for several hours. They were crammed in the compartment measuring 250×80 centimetres and, when they started running out of fresh air, they called the driver for help. He allegedly did not respond.
The police detained the 52-year-old driver and the 48-year-old fellow passenger, who are both citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They will be charged with the criminal act of prohibited crossing of state border or territory. Police procedures with the rescued Iraqi citizens are still under way.