Racially motivated attacks against Roma in Bulgaria

07 November 2001

On September 15, 2001, at about 2:30 AM, two Romani men, Lyubomir Metodiev and Alexander Iliev were reportedly attacked by approximately twenty young Bulgarians when they went to a night shop at Yug Bus Station in the center of the town of Samokov, in the Sofia region, according to information provided by the Sofia-based non-governmental organisation Human Rights Project. Some of the attackers were reportedly skinheads, and all were armed with axes and baseball bats. Metodiev managed to escape after being hit on his right hand with an axe, but Iliev was severely beaten and sustained injuries, including a concussion that caused partial amnesia, and injury to other parts of his body. The attackers reportedly cursed the Roma throughout the attack.

Human Rights Project reported that Iliev was taken by ambulance and hospitalised immediately following the attack at the emergency ward in Samokov, where his condition reportedly deteriorated. Iliev was released from hospital approximately two weeks after being admitted. Metodiev suffered wounds to his right hand that also required medical attention. A preliminary investigation into this case was launched after Lyubomir Metodiev filed a complaint with the police. As of December 5, according to the Human Rights Project, police had not taken any action on the complaint.

Also, on September 19 and 20, 2001, the Human Rights Project received notice that a 13-year-old Romani girl had suffered severe injuries to her face after being attacked by a group of young men in Samokov. According to information received from the Human Rights Project, both the girl and her relatives refuse to testify in this case. There is therefore no pending investigation, but police forces have reportedly been appointed to guard the central part of town and all schools in Samokov.

In another incident of violence against Roma, on July 18, 2001, three young Romani men, Mr Trayan Sashov, 23, Mr Zdravko Alexandrov, 20, and Mr Krum Yankov, 22, reported being heavily beaten by police officers from the sixth police station during arrest in the Fakulteta district of Sofia, according to the Sofia-based non-governmental organisation Romani Baht Foundation. The three young men were arrested on suspicion of having committed a theft by officers in both plain clothes and in uniform. During the arrest, the three young men report in their statements to Romani Baht Foundation they were beaten with fists and truncheons, kicked repeatedly and hit with a large piece of wood. The officers also reportedly insulted the ethnic origin of the young men during the arrest, calling them "dirty Gypsies". Mr Sashov and Mr Alexandrov reported being forced into the police car, and after having arrived at the police station, all three of the young men reported that they were beaten again. After being released only on the following day, the three Roma men obtained medical certificates from a forensic doctor attesting to their injuries. In the cases of Mr Sashov and Mr Alexandrov, the doctor certified that they received "medium body injuries", and in the case of Mr Yankov, "light body injuries". On August 28, 2001, the three young men filed complaints with the Sofia Military Prosecutor's Office against the officers responsible for the beatings for infliction of minor bodily harm and infliction of medium bodily harm in accordance with the medical certificates. As of November 29, 2001, the investigation was reportedly pending.

(ERRC, Human Rights Project, Romani Baht Foundation)


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