Slovakia: Riot unit attack on Romani settlement remains unsolved
One year on from initiating a criminal prosecution in the case of an attack on the Budulovská Romani settlement in the town of Moldava nad Bodvou by police riot units, Slovak justice authorities have not managed to complete their investigation.The European Roma Rights Centre and the Equity civic association have issued a press release on Facebook to that effect.
The press release recalls that criminal reports filed against the officers have since been mysteriously lost by the Prosecutor-General. Detectives are now said to be arranging for psychological examinations of those who witnessed the attack, which seems more like an effort to call their testimonies into question than an effort to discover and punish the perpetrators of the incident.
Slovak ombud Jana Dubovcová said previously that she considers the investigation to be a kind of "camouflage". She has now announced that she will be reviewing whether the delays in the case are unnecessary.
The police intervention in the Budulovská settlement happened in June 2013. Local residents say the settlement was occupied by 20 police vehicles and that approximately 60 officers in balaclavas broke into their homes, demolished their fixtures and assaulted them.
"Police officers went from one house to another, breaking down doors, breaking in windows, smashing up furniture and attacking individuals very aggressively without communicating in any reasonable way whatsoever. Some of our clients had to seek medical treatment for their injuries and have medical reports to prove it," news server iDNES.cz quoted Martin Vavrinčík of the ETP nonprofit, which runs a community center in the settlement, as saying immediately after the raid.
The Slovak daily SME spoke with Igor Hudák, a settlement resident, who claimed that offices "beat him with truncheons, gave him electrical shocks, and kicked him." According to witnesses, a six-week-old infant was also injured, and several of them compared the police maneuvers to war.
Police: The "inadaptables" destroyed their own homes
An official police report about the incident states that the officers were looking for wanted persons in the settlement and rejects allegations of brutality. The media, of course, have speculated that there might have been a different reason for the invasion of the settlement: It could have been revenge for an incident several days prior in which local Roma allegedly assaulted a police patrol and threw rocks at their vehicle.
Jana Mésarová, spokesperson for the Košice Police, has even said that the "inadaptable citizens" might have demolished the fixtures in their small homes themselves in order to exploit the police action as an opportunity to get financial compensation. Police are also claiming that the intervening officers were attacked by a local settlement resident with an ax during the raid.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, visited the police station in Moldava nad Bodvou to express support for the officers. Fico did not visit the Romani settlement.
More than half a year later the prosecutor in Prešov ultimately decided to initiate a criminal prosecution over the raid. News that a court in Slovakia has just acquitted police officers charged with torturing Romani children has increased concerns that this police raid against the Roma may not be investigated either independently or thoroughly.
SELECTED PROBLEMATIC POLICE INTERVENTIONS AGAINST ROMANI PEOPLE IN SLOVAKIA
6 July 2001 - At a police station in the Central Slovakian town of Revúca, several police officers beat a 51-year-old Romani man, Karol Sendrei, so brutally that he died as a result of his injuries. Seven police officers were charged in the case and released six months later. Four of them were then convicted and given sentences ranging from four to eight and a half years in prison.
21 March 2009 - Police officers in Košice detained six Romani boys aged 10 -15 after they allegedly injured and robbed and older woman. At the police station, under the threat of corporal punishment and a constant torrent of verbal abuse, the police forced the boys to kiss each other, slap each other, and strip naked. The scenes of humiliation were recorded using a mobile telephone. Nine police officers were fired in connection with the crime. On 27 February 2015 all 10 of the current or former police officers prosecuted in connection with the crime were acquitted.
19 June 2013 - Ten police officers and riot police occupied the Romani settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou during the evening. Officers were allegedly looking for wanted persons there. Shortly after the police raid, however, occupants of the settlement claimed the officers broke into their homes for no reason, attacking children and women and reportedly using stun guns and tear gas.
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