Police beat four Roma near Ciechocinek, Poland
05 January 1999
On July 26, 1998 four young Roma — Walenty Kowalski (19), Patryk Kowalski, Arkadiusz Kowalski and Jan Kaminski (35) — were beaten by local policemen. As reported to the ERRC by the Roma Information and Counselling Centre, the incident took place in the town of Ciechocinek, 100km north of Łódź after a Romani music festival taking place on the evening of July 25. After midnight, a police car stopped by the group of four Roma, who were walking back from the festival to their cars before driving back to their village of Konstantynów Łódźki, 120km away. The policemen, wearing black commando suits and with their faces covered, forced the Roma to get into the police car in front of at least thirty other Romani witnesses, and reportedly took them to a forest out of town, where they beat the Roma severely. The police also took away the ID cards of all of the Roma.
After they had been released at five o'clock in the morning, one of the group managed to call his relative, and all were taken to seek medical help in the nearby town of Włocławek. As a consequence of the policemen kicking him, Jan Kaminski was diagnosed with a broken leg and sent to the Łódź ospital for treatment. Another Roma from the group had suspected concussion. Walenty Kowalski had a broken nose.
The Roma were later charged with using vulgar words in a public place and with vulgar behaviour in a public place. The case was scheduled to appear in Aleksandrów Kujawski court on December 10, but the hearing was postponed indefinitely. Through the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland, the Roma found a lawyer who filed a complaint with the prosecutor Serocki. (ERRC, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Poland, Roma Information and Counselling Centre)