Romani Couple Beaten by Police in Austria

On April 24, 1996, Nicola Jevremović, a Serbian Rom who is a long-term resident of Austria, attempted to pay a fine for a parking ticket which a traffic policeman was writing for his friend's car. In the events that followed, the policeman pulled his gun and Mr. Jevremović ran from the scene. Although he escaped with the help of a passing streetcar, he was easily located at home.

Shortly thereafter, a commando unit of between 25 and 40 police officers appeared before his apartment building and stormed the apartment where he lived with his wife and three children. According to the police, no arrest or search warrant was provided. Nicola was seriously beaten by several officers, as was his wife, Violetta Jevremović, as she moved to cover their three children. Both were spat on and called „Dirty Gypsy", „Filth" and „Tschusch" (an Austrian insult for a foreigner). Attempts by Mrs. Jevremović to explain that she suffered from a slipped disc were answered with further abuse.

Ultimately, Mr. and Mrs. Jevremović were led off in handcuffs, although not before being forced to wait in front of their apartment complex for half an hour - a form of public humiliation. Their three children - aged 9, 11 and 12 - spent the night alone at home.

Mr. and Mrs. Jevremović were released the next morning, after they paid 2,200 Austrian Shillings (roughly 220 US dollars). That day, the police declined to indicate the reasons for the fine. In order to force the family to remain silent on the subject of the beating, the police threatened that they would all be deported „if they did anything like that again."

The Jevremović family has lived in Austria for 16 years. They have always had legal residence permits, and none of them has any criminal record. Nicola has been charged with resisting arrest (Widerstand gegen den Staatsgewalt) and Violetta has been charged with „suspicion of resisting arrest" (Verdacht des Widerstandes gegen den Staatsgewalt). An initial hearing was held September 11, but the trial was then postponed indefinitely. With financial support from the ERRC, the Jevremović family is also initiating a case against the police for abuse of state power.

(Romano Centro; ERRC)

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