Slovakia: Romani community buries victims of off-duty cop shooting
On Friday, 30 June, the funeral service was held at the municipal cemetery in Hurbanovo, Slovakia for the victims of a massacre that occurred more than two weeks ago when municipal police officer Milan Juhász (age 51) shot dead three Romani people and injured another two members of the same family. It is not entirely clear what Juhász's exact motive was; police are working on several versions of what it might have been. One version is that the self-appointed renegade decided to take justice into his own hands and get rid of the alleged disturbers of public order in Hurbanovo with the aid of an illegal weapon.
During the funeral, several police patrols were on duty in the town. The service was dignified; no incidents took place. At 9 AM roughly 100 Romani people met at the cemetery to pay their last respects to the murdered members of the Lakatoš family. The Romani members spontaneously formed a half-circle around the coffins and shared their memories of the deceased.
The funeral ceremony took place in Hungarian and Slovak, with Mayor Margita Zemková giving the eulogy. Ladislav Fizík, chair of the Romani Parliament, also addressed the mourners. "No one has expressed a single word of apology," he pointed out, emphasizing that the Romani community is not preparing to take revenge for the attack. "We will not lower ourselves to that level, we are not planning retaliation," said Fizík, adding that he fears the tragedy will deteriorate relations with the majority population. In his opinion the Slovak Government Commissioner for the Romani Community should also have been at the funeral.
The police officer responsible has been charged with the particularly serious crime of premeditated murder, as well as with possession of an unlicensed weapon and with trespassing. If convicted, he faces 25 to life. Juhász is still a member of the Municipal Police and has taken unpaid leave.
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