After European Court of Human Rights ruling, Slovak court acquits yet another Romani victim wrongfully indicted for reporting a brutal police attack
On 13 May the District Court in Košice, Slovakia acquitted Robert Rybář, a Romani man who, along with other Romani community members, was charged with making false accusations and committing perjury against the police officers who perpetrated a brutal raid in 2013 on the settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou. The acquittal is now final.
This is the second such decision after the District Prosecutor withdrew indictments in March against five of the six Romani community members charged with such offenses in relation to this incident. The local prosecutor did so after receiving the Slovak Prosecutor-General's standpoint on the case and after reassessing the evidence.
That reassessment followed a judgment handed down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg in September 2020 that declared the complaints of two of the Romani defendants in the case against Slovakia admissible and awarded them compensation. The ECtHR is still deliberating the complaints filed by other the applicants that they have been wrongfully charged with perjury in relation to the police raid.
Defendant Leonard Horváth was the first such defendant to be acquitted by the District Court for Košice I on 3 May. The hearings of another three defendants are scheduled for June and the same verdict is anticipated in their cases.
The prosecutor has not yet withdrawn the charges against defendant Irena M. The incident in question happened on 19 June 2013 when more than 60 police officers invaded the Romani community living on Budulovská Street in Moldava nad Bodvou and physically assaulted approximately 30 people, including children and women.
"They harmed us for no reason. We had done nothing. On the day of the police raid they arrived at our homes, entered our apartments without permission and began to beat us indiscriminately. I am very glad the court has confirmed we were right and that it has made the decision it has made. I consider this to be a correct decision," Rybář said.
Six Romani residents of the settlement total described police officers perpetrating attacks of similar brutality during which they were brutally and groundlessly beaten. According to the Slovak Interior Ministry Inspectorate, which investigated the intervention, the police acted lawfully.
The prosecutor subsequently indicted the Romani people, who had originally been in the position of injured parties in the case, of making false accusations and perjuring themselves, and initially secured convictions in two cases. All of the accused have insisted on their innocence and on the wrongfulness of their prosecution.
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