Five Roma Imprisoned for "Intent to Commit a Crime" in Ireland

On January 17, 2003, the Irish daily newspaper Irish Times reported that five Romanian Romani men - Dinu Miclesceu, Florin Biţă, Vasile Codreanu, Eduard Zlănţineanu and Florin Blăteanu - were found guilty of entering a building with intent to commit an offense after they entered a shop which was, at the time, open for business. Article 11(1) the Irish Criminal Justice Act states, "It shall be an offence for a person: (a) to enter any building or the curtilage of any building or any part of such building or curtilage as a tresspasser, or (b) to be within the vicinity of any such building or curtilage or part of such building or curtilage for the purpose of tresspassing thereon, in circumstances giving rise to the reasonable inference that such entry or presence was with intent to commit an offence or with intent to unlawfully interfere with any property situate therein." According to the daily, on November 11, 2002, the five men entered a shop in Laragh, south of Dublin near Ireland's east coast, and spread throughout the shop. Mr Peter Porter, the owner of the shop, who was present on the day in question, was quoted in the daily as having stated that one of the men called him to the wine section for assistance, while two of the other men were crouched down beside the office door looking at cereal boxes. One of the shop assistants, Ms Ann Marie O'Neill, stated that she had previously seen the men, who made her nervous, and that they had spread throughout the shop to "confuse us".

Irish Times reported that all five men, from Dublin, denied that they had intended to steal anything from the shop. The men also stated that they had never been in the shop before. In his verdict, Judge O'Buachalla of the Rathdrum Court, stated that the actions and manner of the five men as described by the witnesses gave sufficient reason to find the men guilty. Mr Miclesceu, who had previously been convicted of a crime, was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. Mr Biţă, Mr Codreanu, Mr Zlănţineanu and Mr Blăteanu were all sentenced to 4-months-imprisonment. Additional information on the human rights situation of Roma and Travellers in Ireland is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: www.errc.org.

 (ERRC, Irish Times)

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