Rom Burned to Death in Slovakia
12 October 1996
On the afternoon of April 8, 1996, in the settlement of Zalistie, near the village of Hontianske Nemce in the Zvolen district of Slovakia, a 38-year-old Romani man named Jozef Mikloš died when his house was set on fire by local villagers. The event began when a group of local villagers celebrating Easter attacked Mikloš's house, where fifteen Roma had gathered. The villagers broke windows in the house and beat several members of the Mikloš family.
According to witnesses, Mayor Josef Kracin was unwilling to call the police to intervene. Although asked to call the police by one Romani woman, Mayor Kracin allegedly refused. After the Roma successfully defended themselves during the ensuing fight, the Slovaks left, threatening to return during the night and burn the house down. The Romani women and children were sent to the houses of neighbors for protection, while four Romani men remained at the house. That evening, a group of villagers returned, doused the house in gasoline while shouting „we are going to burn Roma" and then set the house ablaze. Jozef Mikloš died and two other Roma sustained injuries in the fire.
Three men have been arrested in connection with the incident by the Banská Bystrica district police and charged with General Endangerment (Article 179, paragraphs 1 and 2 (c) of the Slovak Penal Code) and Disrupting Domestic Freedom (Article 238, paragraphs 1 and 3). In a letter to the ERRC, Minister of the Interior Gustav Krajči claimed that no charges would be brought under provisions on racially motivated crimes. No trial date has been set to date.
(Legal Defense Bureau for Ethnic Minorities; ERRC)