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Czech investigation into death of Romani man in a pizzeria will announce findings at press conference

27.1.2017 14:03
The CCTV footage from the pizzeria in the Czech town of Žatec where a young Romani man died on 18 October 2016. (PHOTO:  iDNES.cz)
The CCTV footage from the pizzeria in the Czech town of Žatec where a young Romani man died on 18 October 2016. (PHOTO: iDNES.cz)

News server Lidovky.cz reports that the investigation into the death of Miroslav Demeter, Jr., who died on 18 October 2016 in a pizzeria in Žatec, is coming to an end and the findings will be announced at a joint press conference of the District State Prosecutor and the Czech Police as soon as possible. The family of the deceased has filed a complaint about the procedure undertaken by the District State Prosecutor in Louny, which is supervising the investigation, and the complaint is being reviewed by that same state prosecutor's office, as it also concerned the police procedure being supervised.

The prosecutor in Louny handed the family's complaint over to regional-level superiors in Ústí nad Labem, which then returned it back to the district level. "This is not a complaint about the state attorney, but about the procedure of the police authority in this matter. We will therefore review it ourselves," explained the head of the Distrct State Prosecutor's office, Radim Dragoun.

The complaint will apparently be dealt with by the end of next week. "I don't understand it. We believe it is absurd for the Louny District State Prosecutor's office to investigate a complaint about itself," the father of the deceased, Miroslav Demeter Sr., told news server Romea.cz.

In their complaint, the family of the deceased point out, for example, the fact that police performed their inspection of the crime scene in an unusual, very inadequate way, as well as that the police and state prosecutor did not demonstrate any interest, for what the family sees as an unjustifiably long amount of time, in a video recording made by an eyewitness to the incident, even though the recording was given to police the day after the incident. The eyewitness was not summoned for interrogation until more than one month later.

News server Lidovky.cz has reported that it seems the police will not be charged with committing any crimes themselves during the incident. "The Inspector-General of the Security Forces is not active in that matter," Radka Sandorová, the Inspector-General's spokesperson, told Lidovky.cz.

Dragoun also told Lidovky.cz that "The available pieces of evidence have been secured, in our opinion, and they now are finally being assessed, both separately and together." The evidence is primarily the autopsy, laboratory analyses, and witness testimonies.

"Within 14 days at the latest this matter should be decided," Dragoun told the news server. Mr Demeter, Jr.'s family does not like the way municipal police officers proceeded in the case by allowing their son to be held to the ground and beaten by another customer.

According to information reported by news server Romea.cz, the municipal police, together with several other customers, "knelt" on Miroslav Demeter, Jr., and held him to the ground for almost 15 minutes before ascertaining he was no longer breathing. "When the municipal police arrived, why didn't they tell them that they would take custody of him? They could have handcuffed him, that many people did not have to kneel on him, and if they had done that the boy would still be alive," Vladimír Hamouz, the uncle of the deceased, told Lidovky.cz.

Hamouz believes that his nephew died as a consequence of the stress of the arrest and because he could not breathe during the intervention. For their part, investigators say they will disclose their results publicly at a press conference: "The decision itself will most probably be presented at a joint press conference of the District State Prosecutor and Police," Dragoun told Lidovky.cz.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Policie, Smrt Roma v Žatci, Státní zastupitelství, Žatec



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