Slovakia Police Misconduct Case – Charges Against Victims Dropped
10 January 2014
Budapest, Bratislava, 10 January, 2014: The District Prosecutor’s Office in Košice I. has dropped criminal proceedings against a young Romani man who was accused of committing a criminal offence during a controversial police action at a Roma settlement. The District Prosecutor’s concluded that no criminal offence against the police had been committed during the police action in June 2013, in the Budulovska neighbourhood, Moldava nad Bodvou. The decision can still be reviewed.
The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) welcomes this decision and hopes that now the last criminal proceedings against the victims have been dropped, the authorities will at last carry out an effective investigation of the motives of this police action.
The young man, L.H. was charged with failing to respect police instructions and physically attacking a police patrol, which repeatedly visited the Roma community. Following the alleged incident between the police patrol and L. H., a group of children and a mentally disabled Romani man, E.R., threw stones at the police car. The police took L. H. and E. R. into custody. Two days later, 63 police officers returned to the neighbourhood and conducted a violent police action resulting in injuries and damage to property.
The Romani man with mental disabilities was only released from custody in August 2013, following legal steps and advocacy interventions by the ERRC lawyer representing him. The Slovak General Prosecutor has found serious misconduct in the activities of the police and the district branch of the Prosecutor’s office in this individual case. A disciplinary procedure has been launched against the District Prosecutor supervising the proceedings, and the investigating policeman faces criminal charges.
The ERRC is concerned that senior public officials are refusing to acknowledge the seriousness of the police action. The Minister of Interior stated, on 9 January 2014, that the inhabitants of Budulovska “have been telling lies […], they committed criminal acts” and that “he is offended that media credit the same importance to statements of the police and those people committing criminal acts”.
No police officers have faced charges for the raid to date, even though the Slovak Ombudsperson found serious violations of Slovak and international law in the action. State authorities – the Parliament and the Government - refused to examine the Ombudsperson’s report or hear her personal intervention. Instead, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs charged her with breaking the existing law, and the Ministry of Interior reacted with labelling her “a liar, who unfortunately politicises the issue”.
“We’re pleased to see the Prosecutor has dropped all charges against the victims – now we would like to see charges being brought against the perpetrators,” said Dezideriu Gergely, ERRC Executive Director. “This violent police raid and the events that followed are shameful – public officials should be working to ensure it never happens again, instead of denying the extent of what happened.”
The General Prosecutor continues to investigate the police raid. The ERRC looks forward to seeing the results of the full investigation of everything that happened to this community, and will continue to advocate for justice to be served.
For more information, contact:
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre