Slovakia: Filipino attempts to prevent harassment of women, harasser kicks him to death
A wave of outrage has been sparked in Slovakia by the case of 28-year-old Juraj H. from Dunajská Streda, who kicked a Filipino man to death in the center of Bratislava. The 36-year-old immigrant was attempting to protect female coworkers of his from being harassed by the assailant.
The brutal assault happened on Saturday 26 May, and on Thursday, 31 May, Henry John Seraica Acorda, who was prone on the ground when he was kicked in the head by the attacker, succumbed to his injuries. He had lived in Bratislava for several years and worked for a computer firm.
"Although police arrested Juraj H. after the assault, the district prosecutor saw no reason to keep him in custody. One day before the Filipino man died, Juraj H. was released on his own recognizance," the online news portal Denník N reported.
According to the daily Sme, the detective in charge immediately asked that the attacker be remanded into custody. The prosecutor disagreed.
Reportedly the prosecutor did not see any reason to believe the accused would continue such criminal activity if released. "The prosecutor studied the file and could not find any facts about the accused to cause him to be concerned that he might continue with the kind of criminal activity for which he is being prosecuted and therefore did not identify with the detective's motion for him to be remanded into custody," Oliver Janíček, spokesperson for the Bratislava Regional Prosecutor, said on Wednesday, 30 May.
"The prosecutor ordered the defendant be released," Janíček told the media. The case, however, has provoked public indignation.
"Juraj H. caused such serious injuries to the Filipino man, Henry, that he died as a result. All just because Juraj H. wanted bother girls and this 'evil immigrant' wouldn't allow it? Where are the [ultra-nationalist] Kotleba fans now? Or if a Slovak attacks, does that make it ok?" the daily Pravda quoted one such post to social networks as saying.
Government and opposition politicians have made statements about the case. "It cannot be tolerated that murderers are allowed to freely walk down our streets," said Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pelligrini.
"These are very bad signals for our society," the PM said. "We can show no mercy to this murderer."
"Justice must be immediately delivered," the PM said. Former Government spokesperson and Slovak MP Erik Tomáš (Směr) said on Slovak television that "Only an animal in human skin can first bother a woman and then kick to death her defender."
Tomáš rejected the idea that the governing party is responsible for the anti-immigrant atmosphere in the country, however. Směr reportedly will not change its refusal to redistribute migrants according to the European Union's quota proposals as it believes to do so would pose a national security risk.
The case, in the interim, has been taken up by the Regional Prosecutor and police officers again arrested the perpetrator on Friday, 1 June. Juraj H. is now charged with manslaughter and faces between seven and 12 years behind bars if convicted.
The prosecutor submitted a new proposal for him to remain in custody today. Reportedly Juraj H. is now considered a flight risk and potential recidivist.
The court will decide whether he will remain in custody after arraignment on this new charge. Police have not yet said whether they believe racism played a role in the brutal assault.
According to Juraj H.'s Facebook profile, he is very close to racist groups. The manslaughter suspect has, for example, shared to his profile an image of Ku Klux Klan robes with the remark that "This outfit isn't bad."
Elsewhere on his profile he has posted the slogan "White Power", which racists very frequently use. Other posts of his, however, do not provide evidence of racist hatred.
Juraj H. has shared songs by the Romani performers Gitana and Rytmus. According to a friend of Henry's, the man who has died, the incident involved a mix of various factors.
"First and foremost, Henry was in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were two women there, one from the Phillipines and one from Poland. Maybe that guy wanted to flirt with them but ended up bothering them instead. They rejected him, Henry told him to let it be, and then the guy struck him. If you have seen his Facebook profile, he was about three times the size of of Henry. My colleague, however, claims to me that if Henry had not been a FIlipino, if he had been white, this would not have gone as far as it did. In other words, I believe there was a bit of racism involved," Oliver Burias told Denník N.
This coming Wednesday evening (6 June) there will be a memorial assembly to honor the Filipino man who has been killed on the Slovak National Uprising Square (Náměstí SNP) in the Slovak capital.
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