Brutal racist skinhead assault leaves young Slovak Rom in a coma
By Bernard Rorke
A vicious racist assault by a gang of skinheads in the Slovak town of Zilina, at around 2 am Saturday morning (July 21), left one young Roma man, Daniel Danis with severe head injuries, and a non-Roma who came to his rescue with a broken leg. A policewoman who came with the ambulance said: “The town center is not for Gypsies, but for whites.”
According to interviews with the victims by ERRC monitors, Daniel Danis and six of his friends went to the Nosorozec pub in Zilina town centre, to celebrate Daniel’s 21st birthday. Unbeknownst to the Roma this is a place where skinheads regularly congregate.
At around 2 a.m. as the Roma were about to leave, they were surrounded by a group of between 10 and 15 skinheads armed with sticks who began throwing rocks at them. The Roma attempted to flee their attackers, but Daniel did not succeed, was set upon and subjected to a ferocious assault.
A young non-Roma who had earlier had a drink with the birthday group inside the bar, threw himself on top of Daniel to shield his head from the battering. He sustained a broken leg in the attack. Prior to and during this vicious attack, the skinheads were screaming “We will kill you, Gypsy scum”.
The victims told our monitors that after the attack, they went back home, but Daniel started to feel dizzy and his parents called an ambulance. He was admitted to hospital and is currently in a coma with severe brain damage and awaiting possible surgery.
When the police arrived at the scene with medical responders, one officer stated: 'The town center is not for Gypsies, but for whites”, as if by way of explanation or mitigation. According to testimony, the medical staff downplayed the seriousness of Daniel’s injuries and stated that he was “OK”.
Daniel’s father filed criminal charges concerning the attack later on Saturday morning. What remains deeply worrying, is fact that the police investigator completely excluded racial motivation in the statement about the attack – a vicious life-threatening hate crime where the victims were clearly targeted because of their ethnicity.
The attitude of the police was made plain when they refused to take another of the victims in a police car to file criminal charges against the attackers, and told him to make his own way to the police station. The victims were able to identify some of the assailants, and told ERRC monitors that they suspect the police officer may have personal ties with one of the skinheads.
The dismal record of the justice system in cases of racist violence against Roma, by state and non-state actors in Slovakia, is such that the victims’ worried are well founded. ERRC will closely monitor this case.