Court Slams Slovakia for Death of Romani Man in Police Custody
20 December 2010
BUDAPEST, 20 DECEMBER 2010: Last week, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) in the case of Mižigárová v Slovakia found a violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights in a decision regarding the death by shooting of a young Romani man, Lubomir Šarišský, in police custody. On 14 December 2010, the Court held that Slovak authorities had failed to give a plausible explanation to the death of Mr Šarišský, who was in good health at the time of his arrest. Consequently, the Court found that Slovak authorities had violated their obligation to take reasonable measures to protect Mr Šarišský’s health and well-being while he was in police custody. The Court also held that the ensuing investigation was severely inadequate which amounted to a further violation of Article 2.
The case concerns 21-year-old Mr Šarišský, a Romani man who, together with a friend, was arrested in August 1999 on suspicion of bicycle theft and brought to the police station in Poprad for questioning. At the police station, Mr Šarišský was questioned by an off-duty police officer, Lt. F, with whom he had had previous encounters. At some point during the questioning, Mr Šarišský was shot in the abdomen. Mr Šarišský died in hospital four days after being shot at the police station. He left behind a wife and a ten-month-old daughter.
In domestic proceedings, Lt. F was convicted in October 2000 of injury to health caused by negligence in the course of duty because he had failed to secure his service weapon contrary to relevant regulations and received a one-year prison sentence suspended for a two-and-half year probation period. Lt. F committed suicide in January 2001.
The victim’s wife, Ms Mižigárová, turned to the Court in 2001 to seek justice concerning the death of her husband.
The applicant was awarded 45,000 EUR in non pecuniary damages for pain, frustration, helplessness and humiliation caused by the violent death of Mr Šarišský. Furthermore, the applicant was awarded 8,000 EUR in costs and expenses.
The Court’s judgment is available online.
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ERRC Media and Communications Officer