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Czech state prosecutor rejects complaint from family of Romani man who died in presence of police

28.4.2017 6:54
On Tuesday, 18 October 2016 at around 19:00 a conflict occurred between customers at a pizzeria in Žatec, Czech Republic, one of whom, a young Romani man, died afterward. (PHOTO: still from eyewitness video)
On Tuesday, 18 October 2016 at around 19:00 a conflict occurred between customers at a pizzeria in Žatec, Czech Republic, one of whom, a young Romani man, died afterward. (PHOTO: still from eyewitness video)

The Regional State Prosecutor in Ústí nad Labem, Andrea Janáková, has rejected point by point all of the reservations expressed by the attorney for the family of Miroslav Demeter, Jr., who died on 18 October in a pizzeria in the Czech town of Žatec after being pacified by a group of men in the presence of municipal patrol officers. Janáková has now said she identifies with the criticized conclusions of the supervising state prosecutor and with the approach taken by the police.

The prosecutor has rejected the family's complaint, which said there were unjustified delays in the investigation, that police took a lax approach toward securing evidence at the scene, that mistakes were made during the interrogation of witnesses, and that the conclusions of the court-ordered autopsy were insufficiently assessed. News server Romea.cz has seen a copy of the communications from the Regional State Prosecutor in Ústí nad Labem to that effect.

"The police, after begining the tasks of a criminal proceedings according to Section 158 paragraph 3 of the Criminal Code, performed a very extensive discovery of the evidence, and it must be stated that the facts of the matter were ascertained, about which there is no reasonable doubt, and that they were ascertained to the extent necessary to issue a decision. It is decidedly not possible to identify with your allegations that the police unjustifiably delayed the accumulation of evidence," the state prosecutor's communication reads.

"It is also decidedly not the case that, as you allege, efforts were made throughout the criminal proceedings to downgrade the investigation or prevent its timely execution; on the contrary, after video recordings of the incident were secured, they were analyzed and compared with other video recordings such that the course of the factual events was properly explained," the communication states. The state prosecutor then goes on to admit that Mr Demeter was struck by others, but says she believes those blows had no causal connection to his death.

The segment of the video recording of the incident where it is apparent that Mr Demeer, who is immobilized, is being repeatedly struck hard with punches in the presence of a municipal patrol officer has been called inconclusive by the state prosecutor. "... the segment at issue is just one component of a certain action and decidedly cannot be considered to demonstrate that Miroslav Demeter's death was a consequence of that action," she concludes.

Family of the deceased: We do not want to give up

The family of the deceased youth is disappointed by the conclusions drawn by the Regional State Prosecutor. "We are disgusted by this, and now we are considering what to do next, but we cannot give up. We believed the state prosecutor would assess this correctly, but that hasn't happened," Miroslav Demeter, Sr., the father of the deceased, told news server Romea.cz.

Mr Demeter, Sr., insists the police investigation was not conducted well and rejects the idea that the Regional State Prosecutor has dealt with the family's complaint in a consistent way. Police shelved the case at the end of January with the finding that no crime had been committed.

"The postponement of the criminal case regarding Miroslav Demeter's death, wherein criminal negligence was suspected, has occurred because no fault has been detected on the part of any other person with respect to his death," Jindřich Koželuh, Deputy Disrict State Prosecutor in Louny, told news server Romea.cz at the time. The family then filed a complaint against that decision through their attorney.

"We disagree with halting the investigation of this case because we believe the police have not paid proper attention to it. Our complaint outlines our arguments," the father of the deceased told news server Romea.cz at the beginning of February.

"We are of the opinion that the police proceeded improperly and that the investigation was conducted neither exhaustively nor well. Primarily, we are of the opinion that the police did not sufficiently secure evidence and that they performed the screening of the evidence and witnesses insufficiently," the attorney for the bereaved, JUDr. Michal Pacovský, said at the time.

voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Policie, smrt , Smrt Roma v Žatci, Státní zastupitelství



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