Romani man shot in police custody in Slovakia

05 September 1999

The Czech Press Agency (ČTK) said on August 13, 1999, that a Romani man had been shot in police custody on August 12 in the central Slovak town of Poprad. The Slovak press did not cover the story until August 19, when the daily Pravda wrote that a 21-year-old Romani man named L.S. had died on August 17. According to press reports, two young Roma were detained by the local police in Poprad on the evening of August 12, 1999, on suspicion of bicycle theft. While being interrogated alone with one police officer, one of the men, 21-year-old L.S., was shot in the abdomen. ČTK informed on August 13 that L.S. had subsequently undergone two operations and was in critical condition.

Speaking on the private television station TV Markiza on August 12, Slovak Minister of the Interior Mr Ladislav Pittner stated that the victim had pulled the policeman's gun out of its holster and shot himself in the stomach. "The incident is being investigated [...] It does not make sense to me that the policeman would use his weapon against a man who is being interrogated," Mr Pittner said. The case is reportedly being investigated by the Regional Police Headquarters in Prešov and the Ministry of the Interior.

Slovak press informed on Thursday August 19 that L.S. had died without regaining consciousness on August 17. According to the lawyer for the victim's family, L.S. told a friend in the local clinic shortly after being transported there and before losing consciousness, "They shot me." The police officer concerned has reportedly been suspended during the investigation.

(ČTK, ERRC, Pravda)

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