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No Arrests After Romani Man Beaten to Death in Czech Republic

21 October 2016

Budapest, 21 October 2016: The ERRC has learned that no suspects have been detained, nor have the police pressed charges after a Romani man was killed in a pizzeria in Žatec on 18th October.

The details of the tragic events are not certain and eye-witness accounts are conflicting. However, it is established that at around 19:00 on Tuesday 18th, a 27 year old Romani man was involved in a fight at a pizzeria involving other customers and the police.

The man is reported to have been acting strangely, and was harassing female customers which resulted a fight breaking out between himself and others. Witnesses say at least some of his 4 or more attackers seemed to be trained in martial arts and severely beat him. It is not clear whether his attackers were employees, customers or both.

The police arrived at the scene and allegedly beat the Romani man further, or at the very least failed to protect the man from his attackers, at which point he collapsed to the floor and was restrained by officers. A witness has come forward saying that at this point:

"As the police were trying to put the man on the ground, the other attackers were jumping on him, they were hitting him in front of the police. I don’t know if the attackers were customers, they were just ordinary guys. There was verbal abuse also, they shouted: ‘you black fucker’".

A video taken by an eyewitness has emerged online and shows the aftermath of the attacks. The footage is unclear, but the plaintive cries of the man lying in agony on the floor of the pizzeria can be distinctly heard, and the police officer holding him pinned to the ground can be plainly seen. The victim died shortly after collapsing and a police officer can be seen performing chest compressions on the Romani man in an attempt to resuscitate him after he stopped breathing.

(Image Romea.cz – still from eyewitness video)

According to a statement made by the Head of the Municipal Police on 20th October, the investigation is ongoing. In a statement made by the State Police on the same day, it emerged that no one has been detained for questioning, and they have not yet pressed charges against any of the attackers. A Police spokesperson also confirmed that the officers collected video evidence of the incident at the time.

Meanwhile, the autopsy report released today has found that the death of the Romani man was not caused by any third party intervention of the assailants or police officers.

In the last few days, over a hundred Roma have held commemorative protests at the site of the young Romani man’s death.

The ERRC are monitoring and investigating this case further to ensure that justice and the due process of the law are followed. The events are uncertain, but based on what evidence there is, the authorities must consider the widespread presence of anti-Gypsyism in the Czech Republic and possible racist motivations during the investigation of the police officers and civilian attackers.

“Roma lives matter just as much as non-Roma, but our experience has shown us that when Roma die, police do not always investigate the case without prejudice and consider racial motivation. We will be monitoring the response from police authorities to ensure this is handled correctly.” said ERRC President, Dorde Jovanovic

 For more information contact:

Jonathan Lee
Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre
+36 30 500 2118

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