Bulgarian media showed edited footage of interethnic altercation in shop - full footage shows a different story
New video footage has been released online showing what preceded the altercation in a shop in the Bulgarian town of Garbovo on 7 April. The Bulgarian media had first reported that three Romani customers had randomly assaulted an employee of the shop.
After that misleading version of the events was publicized, anti-Romani pogroms broke out in the town. Now newly-released, full video footage of what preceded the incident (see above) shows that the employee (the person in the light green sweatshirt), was attempting to deal with a verbal dispute between a Romani man and a youth who is apparently ethnic Bulgarian.
At that point the two other Romani men present are doing their best to calm their friend. When it seems the verbal exchange of opinions is coming to an end, the employee walks away from the small group.
The ethnic Bulgarian youth and the Romani youth continue speaking, however. Suddenly the shop employee comes back to the group and enters the conflict.
The shop employee speaks to the Romani youth in such a way that their heads lightly make contact. A scuffle begins with the other two Romani men.
The Romani man who originally was apparently in a verbal conflict with the ethnic Bulgarian youth does his best to defend the salesperson from being assaulted by the other two Romani men - he pushes them away, but they continue their attempt. The sales clerk stumbles and falls to the ground.
The first Romani man is still attempting to defend the sales clerk from attack when the sales clerk gets up and punches one of the other Romani men, at which point the entire conflict escalates. The two Romani men who were initially holding their friend back in his altercation with the ethnic Bulgarian youth are now fighting the sales clerk, while the Romani man who was involved in the verbal exchange at the beginning does his best, until the very end of the conflict, to defend the sales clerk and to break up the brawl.
Bulgarian media, however, only showed footage of the conflict from the moment the brawl was already underway - edited in that way, nobody could see that it was the sales clerk who threw a punch. The footage initially released by the Bulgarian media also did not show that one of the Romani men was doing his best to defend the sales clerk from being assaulted by the other two.
Anti-Romani pogroms broke out in Garbovo after the Bulgarian media misinformed the public that "three Romani men had beaten up a sales clerk". News server Sofiaglobe.com reports that two homes in which Romani people were living have since been burned to the ground.
Three men aged 28, 27 and 19 now face criminal prosecution for that arson. Other news reports say a total of nine people were arrested during the anti-Roma unrest.
The three Romani men who were in the shop during the conflict with the sales clerk were initially arrested by police, detained for 24 hours, and then released without being either accused or charged. After the anti-Romani demonstrations broke out, those Romani suspects were re-arrested and held in custody.
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