Croatia: Non-Roma beat Romani men in Rijeka and Zagreb
15 July 1999
Two cases of violence against Roma took place in Croatia recently. According to the Croatian daily Jutarnji list of May 15, in the first incident, on April 29, three men beat Mr Šemsa Šečić, a thirty-six-year old Romani man, in Zagreb. Mr Šečić makes a living for his six-member family out of collecting scrap metal. On the evening of April 29, Mr Šečić and two other non-Romani men were collecting scrap metal at a rubbish dump, as they had been invited to do by the inhabitants of the neighbouring buildings. Two young non-Romani men approached them and asked them to move away from the dump, which Šemsa Šečić and his colleagues did immediately. They then went to another dump 100 metres away, and as they started collecting iron again they noticed the same two men running towards them. Mr Šečić started running for shelter, and found himself in another street where a third young non-Romani man stood in his way. The third man hit him with a wooden plank, knocking Mr Šečić to the ground. One of the men put his foot onto Mr Šečić’s chest, and the others continued beating him with wooden planks. When interviewed by Jutarnji list, Mr Šečić could not recall for how long the non-Roma had beaten him, as he had lost consciousness. Eventually, a passer-by chased the assailants away and called the police and an ambulance. Mr Šečić was first taken to the Merkur hospital in Zagreb, where the doctors on duty declared that none of his bones were broken, and dismissed him after giving him an anaesthetic injection. As pains kept Mr Šečić awake the whole night, his wife took him to the same hospital once more early in the morning, where he again received only anaesthesia. The Zagreb-based Association of Roma of Croatia intervened and took Mr Šečić to another clinic the same day, where it was discovered that he had two broken ribs and had to be kept in hospital for treatment. Mr Šečić was released from the hospital on May 5. Even though the police were called to the site of the incident, no investigation has taken place, according to the Stranka Roma Hrvatske (Party of Roma in Croatia). At the suggestion of the ERRC, the case was taken by a lawyer in Zagreb.
In a second incident, a group of four or five non-Roma beat a forty-nine year old Romani man, Mr Jakob Beita, in Rijeka, north-western Croatia, on May 19. Mr Beita is from Slavonski Brod, eastern Croatia, and was in Rijeka for a visit. The group attacked him in public, on a street in the city; they threw him onto nearby rocks and kicked him with their feet. After some time they threw him onto the road where a driver found him and called an ambulance. When Mr Beita was accepted at a Rijeka hospital he could hardly move. A medical certificate issued on his physical condition stated fracture of two ribs and the left side of his pelvis. The case was not reported to the police. The Stranka Roma Hrvatske (Party of Roma in Croatia) believe that Mr Beita was too afraid to report the case to the police, although he himself did not make this statement.
(Jutarnji List, Stranka Roma Hrvatske)