Easter-time attacks on Roma in Slovakia
11 July 2000
More cases of racially motivated crime against Roma have been reported recently in Slovakia. According to reports in the Slovak media and testimony provided to the ERRC by witnesses and victims, on Easter Monday, April 24, 2000, at around 1:00 PM, at least two skinheads attacked a Romani couple on the street in the western Slovak town of Rožemberok. The skinheads reportedly severely assaulted an underaged Romani boy named Josef P. and tried to strangle an underage Romani girl accompanying him named M.L. The girl escaped and alerted local Roma, who then assembled and carried out revenge attacks on five individuals who appeared to be skinheads but who were reportedly uninvolved in the attack. Josef P. suffered a concussion in the attack and had to be hospitalised for several days. He told the ERRC that he knew his attacker who is, according to him, a local skinhead. According to articles in the Slovak dailies Pravda and Korzar, shortly after the incident, police were regarding the attack as disturbance of the peace and possibly assault, but had ruled out a racial motive. Pravda reported that Rožemberok was "divided into two camps" after the attacks.
In another incident, on April 21, skinheads reportedly severely assaulted Roma in the central Slovak town of Poprad. According to local Romani activists, approximately fifteen skinheads assaulted three Roma in the Leopoldov section of Poprad, causing severe injuries. Skinheads reportedly beat at least one of the Roma in the head with an iron bar. According to eyewitnesses, two police officers who subsequently arrived physically assaulted Romani witnesses and victims of the skinhead attack, including Ms Monika Pompa. They also insulted the ethnic origins of the Roma present. At least one shot was fired in the air by police officers, according to eyewitness testimony. Another police car arrived, and officers reportedly detained four Romani men - Mr Emil Mirga, Mr Robert Mirga, Mr Maros Mirga and Mr Milan Mirga, - brought them to a police station in Poprad and seriously physically abused them in custody. Officers also confiscated property belonging to the detained men and destroyed Mr Emil Mirga's watch. Officers then brought the Romani men to a first aid station for treatment, where they reportedly ordered medical attendants not to issue them medical protocols documenting injuries. All four men have been charged with assaulting a police officer and as of June 28, Mr Robert Mirga and Mr Emil Mirga remained in police custody. Investigation into the skinhead attack was reportedly still open as of June 28. A complaint concerning instances of police abuse had not yet been filed as of June 28. In August 1999, a Romani man named Ĺubomír Šarišský was shot and killed in Poprad (see "Snapshots from around Europe", Roma Rights 3/99). To date, no one has been brought to justice for the killing.
Further suspicious events took place around Easter weekend in Slovakia. According to the dailies Nový Čas and Liptov, on April 19 at about 6:00 AM, three Roma, 45-year-old I.P., 6-year-old A.P. and 3-month-old G.P., died in a fire in the Romani slum of Pribylina in the northwestern Slovak town of Liptovský Mikuláš. In the past, Easter has been a period of severe abuse of the human rights of Roma by Slovaks: on Easter weekend in 1996, non-Roma burned to death a Romani man named Jozef Mikloš in a pogrom in the village of Hontianske Nemce. (see ERRC country report Time of the Skinheads: Denial and Exclusion of Roma in Slovakia) According to ERRC information, no one has ever been brought to justice in connection with the killing.
(ERRC, Korzar, Liptov, Pravda, Nový Čas)