Bulgarian police violence against Roma

05 December 2000

According to the Sofia-based non-governmental organisation Human Rights Project (HRP), on August 6, 2000, police officers severely beat 24-year-old Mr Orhan Ahmedov and 16-year-old Mr Marin Gheorghiev, Romani men from the town of Varbitsa in northeastern Bulgaria. The two men were driving on the highway towards the village of Zhelyu Voivoda, in the Sliven district, in southeastern Bulgaria. According to Mr Ahmedov, he heard a horn honking from behind his car, and pulled over. Two police officers reportedly ordered the Romani men to get out of their car, handcuffed them, and started beating them, violently pushing them against the trunk of the car. The police officers also used anti-Romani slurs with Mr Ahmedov and Mr Gheorghiev. One of the police officers ordered Mr Gheorghiev to get back into the car, while the other officer reportedly attempted to force Mr Ahmedov into the trunk of the police car. Although Mr Ahmedov did not fit into the trunk, the officer attempted forcefully to close the lid, injuring him. Eventually, the officer gave up and ordered Mr Ahmedov to get into the car, where he reportedly beat him with a truncheon. The police officers then took the Roma to the police station in Zhelyu Voivoda. Mr Ahmedov told the HRP that in the police station one of the officers beat him with a chair, saying that he had disobeyed police signals to stop his car. The officers issued Mr Ahmedov a misdemeanour report for an administrative violation, which, according to Mr Ahmedov, included incorrect details about the incident. However, Mr Ahmedov signed the report, hoping that the police officers would stop beating him. The police officers reportedly forbade Mr Ahmedov and Mr Gheorghiev from entering the region, saying that "Gypsies" were not welcome in the region. After that, they released the two men.

Later that day Mr Ahmedov and Mr Gheorghiev made an oral complaint to the officer on duty at the Sliven Regional Police Department. The next day the two men obtained medical certificates documenting their injuries. Mr Ahmedov and Mr Gheorghiev filed a complaint with the Regional Military Prosecutor's Office of Sliven. In August 2000 the Military Prosecutor's Office of Sliven opened a criminal investigation into the case. As of December 12, 2000, no progress had reportedly been made in the case.

(Human Rights Project)


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