Slovak court convicts Romani victims of police raid for making allegedly false accusations of brutality
Five years ago a controversial police raid was conducted in a Romani locality of eastern Slovakia. Six Romani people were subsequently indicted for allegedly making false accusations about the raid.
The court has now convicted two of those defendants. The verdict has yet to take effect.
The Romani people involved accused the police officers of committing brutality. NGOs including Amnesty International have drawn attention to the case, which they say involves prosecutors turning the actual perpetrators into victims and vice versa, as well as the state failing to conduct an independent investigation of the incident.
The Slovak ombudswoman has urged that video footage from police operations must always be properly secured for use as evidence in court. NGOs and the Romani people themselves were the first to object to the alleged brutality of the police intervention in June 2013 in Moldava nad Bodvou.
According to civic activists, several dozen special police forces went to the settlement and began to conduct house searches. The activists said the intervention was disproportionate.
The Inspectorate at the Slovak Interior Ministry did not find the officers to have committed any wrongdoing and the Slovak Constitutional Court also rejected a complaint about the raid. The Romani people who alleged that officers beat them up during the raid were then accused of giving false testimony.
"Once again we are experiencing the political powers of the state covering up the failure of the police and refusing to hold them accountable. Once again we are experiencing a situation in which those in power want to take revenge against those who were brave enough to assert their own rights and to resist," the NGOs wrote in their joint declaration.
The NGOs believe the message is being sent by the state that when its agents commit brutality, they can do so with impunity. The intervention by police at Moldava nad Bodvou is not the only controversial Slovak Police operation during which officers have failed to secure video footage for later use.
Former Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák previously announced that police officers would be equipped with video cameras for use during patrols. That has not yet happened.
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