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October 18, 2021



Romani politicians: Slovak court's judgment in case of police abuse of children is unacceptable

15.12.2020 7:44
Harassment of Romani children by police officers in Košice, 2009. (Photo:  Print Screen from the video footage of the incident filmed by the officers themselves)
Harassment of Romani children by police officers in Košice, 2009. (Photo: Print Screen from the video footage of the incident filmed by the officers themselves)

It's unacceptable, we all know what the truth is, we will not stand for this - those were the reactions from politicians of Romani origin in Slovakia after the media reported last week that a court handed down a scandalous decision in a case of police officers torturing Romani children. On 10 December 2020 the Regional Court in Košice announced in open court that it had rejected the prosecutor's appeal of the latest acquittal decision from the District Court Košice II on 4 December 2019 in the case of the abuse of six Romani boys residing at the Luník IX housing estate. 

MEP Peter Pollák of Slovakia, who is also of Romani origin, shares the opinion of the domestic politicians who have responded to the decision. "We all saw what the truth is, we cannot close our eyes to justice," he said.

"I am analyzing this entire situation in detail and turning to international institutions about it as soon as possible, because our institutions have currently failed," the MEP said. Slovak MP Peter Pollák, Jr. called the decision unacceptable.

"Just about everybody saw that video! It was disgusting and the actions of the police officers can be seen clearly and are unforgivable!" Pollák, Jr. posted to social media.  

"I cannot explain a verdict that sides with the inhumane behavior of those officers. This is unacceptable and inexplicable... and that's why we will be demanding an answer from the Justice Ministry," Pollák, Jr. said.  

Andrea Bučková, the Slovak Government Plenipotentiary for Romani Communities, also expressed her disappointment and sense of disillusionment with the court decision. "I'm very sad about the court decision today," she said.

"I believe this is not over yet," Bučková added. The incident on trial occurred in March 2009 at the Košice - Jih police station. 

Several police officers arrested six Romani boys between the ages of 11 and 15 on suspicion of having mugged and robbed a female senior citizen and brought them to the police station. The officers forced the boys to strip naked.
The officers forced the boys to slap each other and follow other orders of a bullying nature that violated their human dignity. Threats were made by the officers using dogs and a loaded weapon to get the boys to comply. 

The officers also recorded part of the abuse session using smartphones. An edited version of that footage was subsequently published on the Internet. 

Last week's decision marks the third time the Regional Court has heard the case. In 2016 and 2018 the decisions of the District Court were overturned after appeals from the prosecutor, who pointed to the serious deficiencies in the hearing of the case and said that in order to clarify ambiguities and complete findings of fact, more evidence had to be introduced - namely, the video footage.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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