Mourning Roma Beaten by Police in Hungary
10 May 2003
news roundup: Snapshots from around Europe
According to the Hungarian national daily newspaper Népszabadság of November 5, 2002, on November 1, 2002, a group of police officers beat a group of forty Roma at a hospital in Gyöngyös in Heves County. The daily reported that the Roma began to loudly mourn their grandmother, whom they had gathered to visit at the hospital and who had died there. Hospital security called the police. According to the daily, when the officers arrived at the hospital, they began to beat the Romani mourners, including women and children. On November 5, 2002, the Budapest-based Roma Press Center (RSK) reported that the officers beat the Roma with truncheons. One of the Romani men was apparently beaten while handcuffed to a door at the hospital and his wife was thrown to the ground by her hair when she attempted to help him. Two Roma were reportedly hospitalised for treatment of severe injuries following the attack and several others sustained light injuries. Népszabadság quoted the Romani victims as having stated that the police treated them brutally and one of the officers shouted, "I'll shoot you all, filthy Gypsies," during the attack. RSK reported that, according to Police Chief József Fidrik of the Gyöngyös Police Department, three officers sustained injuries during the incident. Following the incident, five Roma were detained for allegedly attacking the police officers. On November 12, 2002, the RSK reported that, according to Mr Tamás Hajdu, head of the Criminal Department of the Heves County Public Prosecutor's Office, an investigation would be launched into the actions of the officers involved in the incident. Despite the investigation against the officers, Mr László Tuza, Heves County Police Chief, asserted that the officers had acted legally. Népszabadság of November 22, 2002, quoted a spokesperson for the Hungarian National Police Headquarters (ORFK) as having stated that two of the officers involved in the incident had previously been disciplined for unlawful conduct. ORFK also reportedly began an investigation into the actions of six officers in relation to the incident. As of January 7, 2003, none of the officers involved had been charged for their actions. On January 8, 2003, Népszabadság reported that a departmental investigation, undertaken by the Heves County Police Department, against nine police officers for their involvement in the incident, had been completed. Seven officers received warnings regarding their actions. The Foundation for Romani Civil Rights is providing legal representation in the case.mAs of April 30, 2003, the ERRC was unaware of any further developments in the case.
In other news, on October 17, 2002, the RSK reported that a river warden shot, with rubber bullets and lead shot, four Romani men who were allegedly poaching in a fishpond, in the village of Felsőmocsolád in southern Hungary. According to the RSK, the four Romani men were treated in the Dombovar hospital for slight injuries. Police apparently initiated an investigation into the incident. As of January 7, 2003, the investigation in the case was ongoing. On April 30, 2003, the ERRC contacted the Baranya Megyei Police Station for a case update, but was unable to reach anyone at the station competent to report on the issue. The warden reportedly claimed that he only used his weapon as a last resort.