Romani Man Beaten by Off-Duty Police Officer in Albania

10 May 2003

On December 9, 2002, the Tirana-based non-governmental organisation Albanian Human Rights Group (Grupi Shqiptar i të Drejtave të Njeriut - AHRG) reported that on December 6, 2002, Mr S.B., an off-duty police officer, severely beat Mr Selim Selimi, a 50-year-old Romani man, outside of a bar owned by Mr S.B.'s father in Korçë, central eastern Albania. According to the AHRG, while in the bar, Mr Selimi and three of his friends ordered several drinks, each time paying either Mr S.B., who was working in the bar at the time, or his father. When the Roma were about to leave the bar, Mr S.B.'s father accused Mr Selimi and his friends of having not paid for all of their drinks. Mr Selimi and his three friends explained to Mr S.B.'s father that they had paid for their drinks, then left the bar. At this point, according to the AHRG, Mr S.B. followed Mr Selimi and his friends out of the bar and asked them why they didn't want to pay for their drinks. Mr Selimi began to explain the situation to Mr S.B., but Mr S.B. reportedly punched him in the face and proceeded to repeatedly kick him all over his body. Mr S.B. then hit Mr Selimi on his head several times with the butt of his gun until Mr Selimi fell unconscious to the ground, according to the AHRG. Following the incident, Mr Selimi was hospitalised for 48 hours, during which time he was treated for serious head injuries, swelling on his face and bruising on his legs. The AHRG stated that Mr Selimi's family filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office and that Mr S.B. had been suspended from his duties as a law enforcement officer pending the outcome of the legal action against him. According to the AHRG, Mr Selimi's family reported that Mr S.B.'s family had threatened them in order to try to coerce them into withdrawing their complaint, but the family had not done so. As of March 15, 2003, the investigation into the case was ongoing. Additional information pertaining to the situation of Roma in Albania can be found on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://www.errc.org.

(AHRG)

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