Roma Rights Advocates Win Compensation for Mother of Skinhead Victim
07 February 2005
European Roma Rights Center and Local Counsel Secure Slovakia's First-Ever Award of Moral Damages in Racist Killing
In a ruling communicated this week, on 19 January 2005, the Regional Court in Banska Bystrica delivered a binding final decision, awarding for the first time in Slovak judicial history compensation for moral suffering to the next-of-kin of a victim of racially motivated crime.
The case involves the 1995 killing by skinheads of a 17-year-old Romani youth named Mario Goral, in the town of Ziar nad Hronom. On 21 July 1995, Mr. Goral was chased through the streets of the town by a group of skinheads, stabbed with knives, beaten to a state of unconsciousness, doused in a flammable substance, and then set on fire. He suffered second and third degree burns over 63% of his body and died in hospital ten days later, on July 31. Although at least seventeen persons were initially charged by police in connection with the killing, only two persons were ultimately convicted.
The ERRC has been involved in the case since the organisation was founded in 1996. This and similar crimes were at the center of advocacy efforts for justice in the matter of systemic racist violence against Roma in Slovakia, such as the ERRC's 1996 Country Report Time of the Skinheads: Denial and Exclusion of Roma in Slovakia.
As part of efforts to seek due remedy for the family of Mario Goral, in 1998 the ERRC supported local counsel Dr. Bohumir Blaha in filing a civil action seeking financial compensation for mental anguish suffered by the victim and his mother. In September 1998, the ERRC filed an informal amicus curiae brief, as a supplement to the action of the mother's lawyer. The brief provided international and comparative legal authority with respect to the claim for non-pecuniary damages raised in the submission of Dr. Blaha. The ERRC argued that Mrs. Nadezda Borosova, Mario Goral's mother, was due two separate and independent sets of moral damage arising from the murder of her son. In January the Regional Court in Banska Bystrica agreed, and awarded Mrs. Borosova 300,000 Slovak Crowns (approximately 7,800 Euro) compensation.
The ERRC welcomes the decision as crucial in efforts to check racially motivated violence in Slovakia and to bring justice to its many victims. The ERRC remains involved in a number of similar cases, including the 2000 killing by skinheads of Mrs. Anastazia Balazova (http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=1049) and the July 2001 beating death by police officers of Mr Karol Sendrei (http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=1707).
A summary of ERRC concerns with respect to the human rights situation of Roma in Slovakia is available in English and Slovak at: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=1999.
For further information on the Mario Goral case, please contact Andi Dobrushi, ERRC Staff Attorney: Andi@errc.org, Tel: +36 1 413 2200, Fax: +36 1 413 2201