Slovakia: Romani youth in critical condition after brutal racist attack, police say they see no racist motive and make racist remarks themselves
Slovak news server Denník N reports that accusations of battery and the co-perpetration of rioting have been made against four men in their early twenties from Žilina, Slovakia. In the early morning hours of Saturday, 21 July, along with other racists, the four men identified are said to have assaulted a group of Romani people.
The attackers brutally kicked a young Romani man who is now in critical condition in hospital with a brain hemorrhage. The group of between 10 and 15 racists assaulted the Romani people just after midnight as they were returning from celebrating the birthday of the now-hospitalized victim in a bar.
"They ran after us, shouting 'Gypsies, we'll kill you!' They threw rocks and bottles at us and yelled," described one young Romani man who attempted to flee together with his friend Daniel Danis, who is now hospitalized.
Another customer in the bar did his best to defend Danis. The attackers beat that person up too.
When a police car showed up on the street, the aggressors ran away. "The guys took Daniel home, he was lethargic, he said he didn't feel well and that he had to lie down. He said he was beaten up in town," his father recalls.
"Ten minutes later he called to say he felt really bad. He was unable to breathe," said the father, who called an ambulance.
"A patient with a brain hemorrhage is hospitalized in Žilina in critical condition in the anesthesiology and intensive care department," a spokesperson for the Teaching Hospital and Clinic in Žilina has confirmed. The Regional Police spokesperson also confirmed the assault and the injuries caused to several other Romani victims to the TASR wire service yesterday.
The police spokesperson said two other men aged 19 and 31 suffered serious injuries as a consequence of the attack. The hospital spokesperson also confirmed that a patient has been hospitalized with an open ankle fracture.
One young man was taken to hospital by ambulance directly from the scene of the attack. According to the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), an advocacy group based in Budapest whose monitors in Slovakia have interviewed the victims, the police officers responding to the scene made light of Daniel's injuries.
The ERRC also reports that one of the responding officers told the Romani victims that "The center of town isn't for gypsies, it's for whites." A police detective has since produced a motion pertaining to all of the accused recommending they be taken into custody.
Should their guilt be proven, the perpetrators face prison sentences of between four and 10 years. "What remains deeply worrying is fact that the police investigator completely excluded racial motivation in the statement about the attack – a vicious life-threatening hate crime where the victims were clearly targeted because of their ethnicity," reads the report by the ERRC, which will continue to follow the case.
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