Police Abuse Romani Man in Czech Republic
10 May 2003
The ERRC has received information that on the evening of February 21, 2003, Mr Jan B., a Romani man living in the Romani ghetto UNO outside the northwestern town of Litvínov, was reportedly physically abused by six police officers. On March 3, 2003, Mr B. testified to the ERRC that, on the evening in question, he quarrelled with his 16-year-old daughter when she tried to leave the house. During the fight, Mr B. reportedly hit his daughter numerous times and his wife called for help. The town police officer on duty reportedly called the state police. According to Mr B., after a short while, two police cars arrived at the scene carrying six officers. The officers forcibly opened the door to Mr B.'s flat and, in front of his wife and two children, sprayed tear gas in his eyes. The officers then violently pushed Mr B. onto a bed in the bedroom and repeatedly hit him on the head with truncheons, according to his testimony. In a panic, Ms B. shouted at the police that they would kill her husband, and she and the two children were sent out of the flat by the officers, after which the officers reportedly continued to beat Mr B. until he lost consciousness. After some time, an ambulance arrived and brought Mr B. to a hospital in Most. Mr B. told the ERRC that when he woke up in the hospital, someone had placed a pillow on his face and tried to strangle him. Mr B. reportedly struggled and, when the person stopped, he removed the pillow from his face and saw two state police officers in the room. The officers remained in his room until the morning. In the morning, Mr B. stated, another officer arrived and told Mr B. that he was accused of attacking a public official, in accordance with Article 155 of the Czech Criminal Code. Mr B. reported that he was then released from custody and went home. A medical certificate issued by the hospital in Most verifies that Mr B. suffered injuries and bleeding around his neck and ears. On the day of the ERRC visit, the ERRC accompanied Mr B. to a hospital in Ústí nad Labem, where Mr B. received a second medical certificate which verified the findings of the first certificate. The ERRC then accompanied Mr B. to the Ústí nad Labem police station, where Mr B. filed a criminal complaint in connection with the violent actions of the police. The police investigator informed the ERRC that the case file would be sent to the police in Most. As of March 19, 2003, the ERRC did not have any further information in the case.