Czech Republic: Eyewitness video footage shows Romani man was subjected to violence before he died
An eyewitness to the incident in the pizzeria in the Czech town of Žatec on 18 October during which a Romani man died used a mobile phone to film what transpired. When the images are enlarged and also slowed down, they show other customers committing violence against him prior to his death, including in front of the local police officers who intervened.
The fact that the man had been subjected to violence was also confirmed by two direct eyewitnesses to the incident in interviews published online by news server Romea.cz last week. However, according to a statement made by the manager of the pizzeria, who was quoted in recent reporting on the incident by the commercial TV Prima station, no violence was committed by customers against the young Romani man.
The owner of the pizzeria, who was not present during the incident, released a statement earlier to that same effect. From the beginning the entire incident has been interpreted by the local police, the mainstream media, and the mayor as a case of the young Romani man assaulting customers in the venue, who are then said to have "pacified" him.
TV Prima has broadcast an edited version of footage of the incident taken by the CCTV cameras inside the pizzeria, but in none of the footage that was broadcast can the young Romani man be seen to physically attack any customer. TV Prima also broadcast a statement by the Mayor of Žatec, Zdeňka Hamousová, who was not an eyewitness to the event, alleging that the local police intervention "was adequate, within the limits of the law, and not at all brutal".
The mayor also gave a speech to the memorial assembly convened to honor the deceased on 27 October in Žatec during which she referred to the preliminary autopsy results and asserted to the Romani people gathered there that the young man had died without any third party being to blame. The full autopsy report will take into consideration toxicology test results and has yet to be released.
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