Slovakia: Man shoots at Romani groundskeepers, then hangs Nazi flag from his window, is now in custody
Police from Banská Bystrica are investigating a shooting incident in which a man fired a weapon at Romani people employed by a landscaping firm to mow the lawn at an apartment complex. The attack was perpetrated last week just after 14:00 on Monday and a judge has sent the gunman, who hung a Nazi flag from this window after firing the weapon, into custody.
Racial hatred as a motivation is part of the police investigation. "I felt a stinging pain on my right arm. I thought my colleague's lawnmower had thrown up a rock, but the machines were already turned off, we were done. We looked up at the apartment building and on the eighth floor there was a woman and two men who were shooting at us," Vladimír Janata told the Slovak daily Pravda.
Janata and another four men were mowing the lawn at the Sásová housing estate and work for a local landscaping company. When police officers called to the scene arrived at the building, the attackers began firing their weapons again from the balcony.
"Then they pulled out that flag with the Nazi swastika," Janata said. One of the men recorded the incident on his mobile telephone.
The video footage shows a man standing on a balcony with a Nazi flag and an air gun. "The men shouted something at us before that but we didn't pay any attention to them. Their intention was to hit one of the Romani men," believes Zlatko Vörös, who recorded the incident.
Police are investigating the motivation for the crime and one version, exactly because the Nazi flag was involved, is that it was racially motivated. "The detective from the anti-extremist unit NAKA has begin prosecution in this matter for the offense of displaying sympathy for a movement aimed at suppressing fundamental rights and freedoms," police spokesperson Michal Slivka said.
"Some employees of our business are Romani people who are frequently targeted for assault. People have already thrown eggs at them, for example, or poured water on them," Ivan Šabo, director of the landscaping firm, explained to the media.
The judge, after a preliminary proceeding by a Specialized Criminal Court (STS) in Banská Bystrica, remanded the shooter into custody last Thursday. The reason for the remand was the concern of recidivism.
The motion to remand the shooter into custody came from the prosecutor and the judge agreed with it. Katarína Kudjáková, spokesperson for the STS, confirmed that to the TASR wire service.
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