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December 7, 2021

 

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Czech Police: Autopsy clears us in death of Stanislav Tomáš, attorney for his family doubts its findings, ERRC says they will continue to pursue justice despite police rhetoric

26.10.2021 17:01
Stills from the video that was shared through social media on Sunday, 20 June 2021. Romani community member Stanislav Tomáš died after this intervention by police in Teplice, Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Facebook, collage:  Romea.cz)
Stills from the video that was shared through social media on Sunday, 20 June 2021. Romani community member Stanislav Tomáš died after this intervention by police in Teplice, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Facebook, collage: Romea.cz)

The Czech Police are reporting today that there is "no connection" between the intervention by officers against Stanislav Tomáš in Teplice on 19 June 2021 and his death shortly thereafter. They are referencing the final autopsy report in the case, also termed an expert assessment, from the Forensic Medicine Department of Masaryk Hospital in Ústí nad Labem. 

Police spokesperson Šárka Poláčková informed the public of the news through the police website. The lawyer for the family of Mr Tomáš has cast doubt on the findings of that expert assessment, and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) has responded by saying such rhetoric from police is nothing unusual and that they will continue to pursue justice in this case.

"The Ústecký Regional Police Directorate has received the final autopsy report (expert assessment) from the Forensic Medicine Department of Masaryk Hospital in Ústí nad Labem in the case of the man who died shortly after being arrested by police in Teplice on 19 June 2021. The expert assessment states there is no association between the intervention by the police officers and the death of the man," the police statement says.

"The direct cause of death was intoxication by methamphetamine," the police conclude. Maroš Matiaško, the attorney representing the bereaved family of Mr Tomáš, told news server Romea.cz that "We are reviewing the content of the expert assessment and its conclusions."

"It must be pointed out that an expert assessment is just one piece of evidence and that the conclusions drawn by experts should not be received uncritically. From the beginning we have objected to the fact that an assessment produced by experts from Ústí nad Labem raises doubts as to their independence, given the natural ties such professionals have with each other in the region," Matiaško said.

"Our request that both the autopsy and the assessment be performed by persons who are demonstrably independent and who have no such ties was rejected by the police. For that reason, it is appropriate to approach the expert assessment and the conclusions drawn by these experts critically and with caution," the attorney said. 

Jonathan Lee of the ERRC responded to the news as follows: "Time and time again we hear the same thing from police forces across Europe: that 'there is no connection between the police's intervention and the death of a Romani person.' In all the cases where we have litigated police violence we have repeatedly heard how there has been no wrongdoing on the part of the offending officers."

"This is an unfortunate part of the process and it is part of the reason why it takes years to bring cases of police brutality to justice. The European Roma Rights Centre remains committed to exploring every legal option available," Lee said.

On 19 June 20201, police officers in Teplice used force to arrest and handcuff Mr Tomáš, who died thereafter; bystander video footage of the arrest was uploaded to social media and then republished by news server Romea.cz, where it was broadly criticized by both Czech and international activists and organizations, sparking protests all over Europe. The footage shows an officer kneeling on the arrested man's neck area in a way reminiscent of the intervention during which the African-American man George Floyd was murdered in May 2020 in the USA.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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death after police intervention, ERRC, Roma, Teplice



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