Roma in Hungary Denied Justice
07 May 2002
On February 18, 2002, the Roma Press Center (RSK) reported that four police officers had been found guilty by the Pest County Court of forced interrogation and causing light bodily harm out of a malicious motive to a Romani man, but had been sentenced inadequately. In October 1999, while attempting to force Mr László Vidák, a Romani man, to admit to a theft, RSK reports, one of the officers wound the strap of his handcuffs around Mr Vidák’s throat, tied him to a chair and placed a plastic bag over Mr Vidák’s head. The officers then beat Mr Vidák with a truncheon on his head, back and legs. The police officers had previously been found guilty by the Buda Regional Court in April of 2001 and given two-year suspended sentences. In its recent ruling, the Pest County Court reduced these sentences to one-year prison terms, suspended for three years.
In other news, on January 3, 2002, RSK also reported that all charges against thirteen police officers accused of brutally attacking a group of mourning Roma in Bag, Pest County, had been dismissed. On February 9, 2001, at approximately 2:00 PM, about eighty police officers raided a family funeral vigil. Allegedly, Ms Edit Lakatos, a young Romani woman, was dragged by her hair to a police car, officers also placed a bag over the head of Mr Sándor Lakatos and then beat him with truncheons and kicked him. In addition it was reported that 40,000 Hungarian forints (approximately 150 euros), which had been saved to pay for the funeral, was taken from Mr Lakatos while he was being kicked by officers. During the attack, officers reportedly forced a sixteen-year-old boy to crush a glass with his hands, badly gashing them on the broken glass, and witnesses also stated that officers had beaten a 7-year-old boy about the head with a truncheon (for more details on the case, see: Discrimination in the Slovak Judicial System ). According to RSK, in justifying dismissing the charges, the Pest County Prosecutor’s Investigative Office cited a lack of evidence.
(Roma Press Center)