Slovak police harshly intervene against Romani people in Bardějov, make three arrests
An intervention by dozens of police officers happened on Easter Sunday on Poštárka Street in Bardějov, Slovakia, which is a Romani neighborhood. According to police, a two-person patrol had been sent to the locality in response to a complaint that public order was being disrupted, and roughly 50 local residents allegedly attacked them.
Those living on the street say the patrol's intervention against a Romani man who was not wearing a face mask in public had been brutal and disproportionate. According to the police version of events, the Romani people are said to have injured the two police officers and damaged police vehicles.
"Both members of the patrol were injured and two service motor vehicles were also damaged. After that incident, another 30 police officers were called to the scene. Three people were arrested," the Prešov Regional Police spokesperson, Jana Ligdayová, said.
One man was arrested on suspicion of committing a felony assault on a public official. A detective has already charged him with that offense.
The other two men arrested are suspected of having committed misdemeanor public disturbance. "Police are investigating the entire situation properly and verifying all the circumstances of this case," the spokesperson said.
Arrested man's relatives: Brutal intervention was over a face mask
The relatives of the man now charged with the felony claim police officers beat him brutally just because he was not wearing a face mask in public. "The cops shouted at him, he yelled something back at them, then they grabbed him and began beating him with truncheons, kicked him, and then put him in a car," a female relative of the man described the entire incident in a video posted to Facebook.
That relative also said the arrested man had been drinking. "Then my father-in-law and a friend of his arrived on the scene [after the arrest] and my father-in-law wanted to ask where his son was. [The police] grabbed him too and beat him up, they cracked his skull," the female relative said.
The chair of the Romani Union (Unie Romů) civic association in Slovakia, František Tanko, sent a statement to news server Romea.cz in which he called the police intervention disproportionate. "According to information from the residents, the brutality of the intervention was disproportionate and the question is whether it was justified," reads the statement, which calls on those responsible to undertake a fast, lawful investigation of the matter.
"We have long been witness to the fact that the law is applied to Romani people with the use of disproportionate coercion and force. The principles of equality before the law and of the rule of law are being violated, and that is unacceptable in a democratic society in the 21st century. This intervention must be correctly and objectively investigated and the culprits, whether on the Romani side or that of the police officers, must be lawfully prosecuted if they have broken the law," Tanko said.
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