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June 26, 2022



Russia calls for investigation of the death of Stanislav Tomáš after intervention by police in Teplice

2.7.2021 6:50
The remembrance site for the late Stanislav Tomáš in Teplice, Czech Republic (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
The remembrance site for the late Stanislav Tomáš in Teplice, Czech Republic (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

Russia is joining the Council of Europe's call for an independent investigation into the death of Stanislav Tomáš after an intervention against him by police in Teplice, Czech Republic; according to the TASS press agency, Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, made the statement during a briefing on Thursday, 1 July. "This incident goes hand in hand with the adverse state of the rights of the Romani minority in that country and with manifestations of discrimination and segregation," she said. 

"The Czech Republic is regularly criticized for this by international institutions that are specialized, such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe or the Council of Europe," Zakharova said. "We are supporting the calls by the leadership of the Council of Europe for the independent investigation of this death."

Prague should consistently uphold its international commitments to combat discrimination of Czech citizens and its commitments in the field of supporting and upholding national minority rights, in Russia's view. The police officers intervened in Teplice after two men were brawling in the street and damaging parked cars in the process. 

Police proceeded to arrest 46-year-old Stanislav Tomáš, whom they found lying on the ground, and he died thereafter. They first claimed Mr Tomáš died in an ambulance called to the scene, but at a press conference last week they claimed he died in hospital. 

An amateur video was taken of the arrest by an eyewitness, posted to social media, and then republished by ROMEA TV on their YouTube channel; it captures the officers kneeling on the neck area of Mr Tomáš for several minutes during the arrest. A second bystander video allegedly captured what preceded the intervention by police and shows a man who is ramming his body into a parked car twice and then falling to the ground. 

The police have released yet another bystander video showing that same man banging his fists on that car. Police have repeatedly rejected the idea that they could somehow be to blame for the death of Mr Tomáš and have alleged that he was aggressive toward the officers, assaulted them, and that they therefore used force against him. 

Police called an ambulance to the scene and say that emergency responders started resuscitating Mr Tomáš inside the ambulance. Roughly 15 minutes later, a doctor at the hospital declared Mr Tomáš dead. 

An autopsy, according to police, did not reveal any signs that Mr Tomáš's organs had been damaged or that he had suffocated; according to their conclusions, he had methamphetamine in his body and died of heart failure. The Czech media then inferred from the information released by police that Mr Tomáš had died of a drug overdose. 

The scandal has sparked attention internationally and some commentators are comparing it to that of the Black man George Floyd, who died in the USA after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. The family of Mr Tomáš, who was Romani, filed a crime report against the Czech Police on Wednesday, according to news server 

Already last week the Council of Europe had called for an immediate, independent and thorough investigation of these events, saying that the video footage of the intervention was disturbing and raises many questions about the circumstances of the tragic incident. The Czech branch of the Amnesty International human rights organization called the intervention by police abusive and unlawful, while the head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose, called it abhorrent, brutal and inhumane.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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