Romani boy killed by skinheads in Bulgaria

15 May 1998

According to Bulgarian sources, skinheads attacked and killed a Romani boy in an abandoned building in the centre of Sofia on May 15. On May 12, 15-year-old Metodi Rainov returned from a boarding school outside of Sofia to his parents' home in the city. On May 15, he and a group of seven Romani children were sitting in a dilapidated building in the centre of the city. Around 6 p.m., a group of approximately fifteen skinheads entered the building, which is known in the area as a place where Romani children often spend the night, and attacked them with knives and truncheons. They beat the children present, and they dragged Metodi to the second floor of the building, where they again beat him and then threw him out of second-story window. The other children managed to escape. Metodi was pronounced dead at the scene by doctors. Several individuals reportedly witnessed the attack, but undertook no action. The skinheads escaped. Police informed the parents of Metodi on May 16 that he had been killed. A police investigation is open, but as of May 29, police had released no information to indicate that any persons have been identified or detained.

In a press conference held on May 19 by the non-governmental organisations the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Human Rights Project, Romani Bah Foundation and the United Romani Union, activists decried the fact that skinhead violence against Roma has taken place at an alarming rate since 1995. The killing is the ninth reported case of violence by racists which has resulted in the death of a Romani victim in Bulgaria since the fall of communism. The Bulgarian public has recently reacted with outrage to the highly publicised killing of a police officer in Sofia on May 9 and the violent assault of a woman journalist on May 11. Articles appearing in the Bulgarian press have noted that the killing of Metodi Rainov elicited no similar expressions of public shock.

(Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Romani Bah Foundation)

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