Slovak Police refute disinformation alleging that rampaging murderer at school was Romani
According to disinformation and hoaxes circulating online, the man who went on a murder spree Thursday in Vrútky, Slovakia, was supposedly Romani. Slovak Police refuted those allegations on Friday.
"False information about the man who committed yesterday's attack in Vrútky: Do not believe these lies, they just want to arouse your hatred," the police posted to their Facebook page. As an example of the disinformation, they cited news server Spravodajstvo INE, which published the following allegations: "WHEN WILL THE MEDIA BEGIN TELLING THE TRUTH?! Jaroslav Budz was a person with a heart of gold! The Romani man Ivan Čulok stabbed him to death! who for years has been sniffing toluene and assaulting people on trains! Police knew but kept it secret and everything is always hushed up, because if it's a Rom, then that would be racism! Who will explain this to the family now?! The media do not want to say who committed this murder?! HERE YOU HAVE IT!"
Over the course of 15 hours, this status update got 652 "likes", 334 commentaries, and above all, more than 2 700 shares. Jana Balogová, spokesperson for the Regional Police Directorate in Žilina, said that in the case of the tragedy in Vrútky "we have recorded a series of pieces of disinformation disseminating through the online space by being shared en masse, the sole aim of which is to artificially arouse hatred against a certain ethnic group, and for that reason we consider it in the public interest to reveal that the attacker in this case was not Roma."
According to Slovak Police, it is the case that the now-deceased attacker in Vrútky "had previously threatened train passengers and staff, for which he was charged with criminal menace and subsequently given a suspended prison sentence in an accelerated procedure. In the past he had also committed the misdemeanor of smoking at the train station and fined EUR 10. However, nothing else in [the Spravodajstvo INE] post is true."
These are the particular claims that are untrue: "a Romani man stabbed him", "sniffing toluene for years", "assaulting people for years", "police knew this", "police kept this secret", "everything is always hushed up", "because if it's a Rom", "media don't want to say who committed this murder". The Slovak Police are now clearly stating that the attacker was not Romani.
Despite the official refutation of this disinformation, however, people continue to disseminate it as if it were the truth. For example, in the online discussion beneath the police report, one can read the following post: "Untrue information? We, the majority, know the truth. I am from Vrútky and that murderer lived in the prefab housing, several crime reports were filed against him for theft and harassment, mainly on the train (he stole), but clearly because he is black all of that will be forgiven... where is this fucked-up Slovakia heading?"
The alleged ethnicity of the attacker was mentioned by Slovak MP Milan Mazurek of the fascist LSNS on his own Facebook page, called the attacker "a member of a discriminated 'minority'" just a couple of hours after the attack was committed. Mazurek himself has been previously convicted of intentional felony defamation of a person for his/her convictions, nationality or race; he had to resign from elected office and pay a fine of EUR 10 000 when he was convicted, but is back in office today.
Deputy Principal Jaroslav Budz was fatally injured while attempting to stop the rampage at the school and died of his injuries at the scene. The attacker injured three adults and two children, all of whom were then hospitalised at the University Hospital in Martin; their conditions have stabilized, the spokesperson of the hospital was quoted by the TASR newswire as saying earlier today.
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