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Union of Vlax Roma in the Czech Republic files crime report in Stanislav Tomáš's death, calls for special commission in the lower house to investigate

24.7.2021 5:57
Josef Stojka, chair of the Union of Vlax Roma in the Czech Republic and a civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs
Josef Stojka, chair of the Union of Vlax Roma in the Czech Republic and a civil society member of the Czech Government Council for Romani Minority Affairs

The Union of Vlax Roma (Unie olašských Romů) in the Czech Republic has filed a crime report in the matter of the death of Stanislav Tomáš, who died after an intervention against him by police on 19 June 2021, Union chair Josef Stojka has informed news server Romea.cz. The family of Mr Tomáš also previously filed a crime report over the death through their attorney.   

"We have decided to take this step because we believe it should lead to our receiving answers to the question that has arisen as to whether Mr Stanislav Tomáš had to die, or rather, whether the intervention against him by police that preceded his death was disproportionate or even illegal," Stojka said. "Our association has had no choice but to file a criminal report with the Regional Prosecutor in Ústí nad Labem and to demand that we be urgently informed about measures and steps taken in this matter, which is absolutely in accordance with the relevant regulations of the Criminal Code," Stojka said, who also believes the official reflections on the incident so far have been merely political and tendentious. 

"Many [official] figures and organizations have expressed their views on this matter and it would be difficult to find a reaction among them that could be considered matter-of-fact and sober. On the contrary, it has been possible to follow many statements that have exploited racist, vulgar ideas in an absolutely cheap way, as well as the general repugnance for persons who abuse drugs," Stojka said, adding that the Union fundamentally rejects such an approach. 

According to Stojka, an independent, proper investigation of the incident could contribute the necessary calm to an atmosphere that has become unnecessarily tense and could also lead to building the necessary respect for the police that is currently seriously lacking, in part because of the suspiciously quick handling of Mr Stanislav Tomáš's death, which many observers say is being swept under the carpet. "We are asking that the relevant criminal justice authorities, or the relevant oversight bodies of the Police of the Czech Republic (such as the General Inspection of the Security Forces, as well as the relevant Internal Affairs Department) take all necessary steps to investigate the entire incident and to inform the interested parties, the bereaved survivors of Mr Tomáš and interest organizations, of what it is they have found and any proportionate measures taken based on those findings," Stojka said.   

"We are asking for the establishment of a special commission in the lower house to properly investigate all of this, as even the Council of Europe and the UN are following this and asking for a tough investigation of this entire case," Stojka's statement concludes. On 19 June, police officers arresting Mr Tomáš used force to handcuff him and he later died.

Bystander video of his arrest was posted to social media and then published by news server Romea.cz, after which both domestic and international activists and organizations broadly criticized it, including through protests all over Europe. The video shows how an officer is kneeling on Mr Tomáš's neck area in a way reminiscent of the intervention during which the African-American George Floyd was murdered in May 2020 in the USA.

Nonprofit organizations involved with human rights and Romani-related subjects in the Czech Republic arranged for the family of Mr Tomáš to be provided with legal representation with the support of the European Roma Rights Centre. Mr Tomáš's funeral will be held today, 24 July 2021, at 10 AM in the Church of Saint John the Baptist on Zámecké náměstí in Teplice, Czech Republic. 

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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death after police intervention, Olašští Romové, Prohlášení, Teplice



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