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Czech Republic: Romani man complains against member of Police Special Forces Unit

Šluknov, 5.11.2011 16:18, (ROMEA)
One way some police most often break the law is to cover their service numbers, as they did this year on 1 May in Brno during the blockade of the neo-Nazi march. Illustrative photo:  Romea.cz Archive

Šluknov, Saturday 29 October, 4 PM. Mr Ladislav Bíllý was moving in and out of his building on his own property. When he exited through the back door into the courtyard, he met a police officer dressed in a black jumpsuit. A second police officer then turned up and attacked him.

Bíllý describes the events of that afternoon in the following unemotional words: "The police officer asked me where I was going, and I replied that I was going to my car. It was parked by the building in the front part of our private lot. I added that I wanted to drive the car up to the back door to get a chair out of it that I had transported. The police officer wanted my identification. I replied that it was in the car and that I would be glad to show it to him. At the moment another police officer dressed the same way came from around the corner and without asking me anything grabbed me from behind with one hand by the hood of my jacket and with the other hand on my throat. He pushed me to the wall roughly and yelled: 'Shut up and be polite' at me."

Bíllý described the officer who assaulted him as about 190 centimeters tall and heavy-set. The other police officer stood by and did nothing but heard and saw everything.

Until that moment, of course, Bíllý said nothing had occurred that anyone might have considered "impolite", so he quite understandably did not grasp why the police officer was making such a demand. "The way he grabbed me and pushed me up against the wall of the house was not just overkill - he had no reason at all to do it. My Adam's apple still hurts today, I have a feeling of pressure in my throat, and my back hurts a bit," Bíllý says.

The entire incident lasted about 10 seconds. The police officer then let Bíllý go, but continued to behave aggressively, cursing the fact that he had to accompany Bíllý to his vehicle for his documents (a few meters away).

They went to the car (a Volkswagen Golf), which was parked on the private lot owned by Bíllý and his wife. Mr Bíllý got his documents out and handed them over to the police officers, who then wanted to see the papers for the car. They then told him to take everything in the car out of the car. Once he had done that, they searched the entire vehicle. During this the aggressive police officer shouted at Mr Bíllý: "Don't piss me off anymore you black swine."

Other police officers arrived in the meantime, so there were now a total of six present for this monitoring. Mr Bíllý then asked them to leave his private property and they did so. Bíllý later learned that his sister, who lives in the building, saw the entire incident from her window.

Ladislav Bíllý filed a complaint about the police officers' behavior at the police station in Šluknov. "My main concern is that they attacked and humiliated me for no reason, I don't understand how they can do that. I never provoked the officers," he said. Local officers have given his file the title of "COMPLAINT AGAINST THE APPROACH OF THE SPECIAL FORCES UNIT-PRAGUE PATROL" (STÍŽNOST NA POSTUP HLÍDKY SPJ PRAHA).

Bíllý's visit to the doctor in the aftermath of the entire event was also affected. "When I went to the doctor and told him what had happened to me, and that a police officer had done it, he relied that this was third version of the case he had heard. I didn't understand, so I asked what he meant. In the end he said someone from the police had telephoned him about the incident. The doctor then told me I was all right and sent me away. However, my throat was hurting quite a bit, so I went to another doctor. After inspecting me at the surgery, giving me an x-ray and sending me to an ear-nose-and-throat doctor, they put me on sick leave. I am still not well today," he said.

Police officer Petra Zbončáková of the Šluknov police department told news server Romea.cz that she could not reveal any details about the case, not even whether it was under investigation, as our editor is not participating in the proceedings. Ladislava Bíllý says the case was transferred to Prague, to the Regional Police Directorate. News server Romea.cz is researching the details and trying to determine the opinion of the leadership of the Special Forces Unit or the Police Inspectorate, which investigates complaints against police officers. The information department of the Prague Police Administration (the press spokesperson) has not yet replied to our questions. SPJ Praha, the Special Forces Unit based in the capital, is a prestigious unit with many successes behind it from a professional point of view. As its website celebratorily states, the unit has always been and still is deployed during large-scale events in the Czech Republic where there is a risk of great damage to health and property, such as mass assemblies like demonstrations, etc. However, their function is not limited to such events. SPJ Praha members are "universal police officers" because their training makes it possible for them to help during natural disasters or large car accidents, or to ensure protection for other units during special events, etc.

SPJ Prague has been sent to the Šluknov foothills to assist with the maintaining of order in the streets. They were deployed at the request of mayors concerned by the tension and unrest in the region.

"The Prague Special Forces Unit is very physically and psychologically robust. Thanks to their equipment and training, their members can be compared with the best the world has to offer," their website reads.

What does Ladislav Bíllý have to say to that? "It could be true that SPJ are among the best and that they are comparable to similar units abroad. I don't want to tar all police officers or all members of the SPJ with the same brush, as they do to us. However, even they need to improve, it's just not possible that a police officer abuse the law or his own powers against someone just because Roma are involved," Bíllý says.

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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