Suspicious Death of Romani Man at Police Station in the Czech Republic
07 November 2002
On August 9, 2002, the ERRC received information from the Czech non-governmental organisation Environmental Law Service (ELS) that on June 19, 2002, Mr Vladimír Pecha, a 23-year-old Romani man, died under suspicious circumstances at the Malatova Královo Pole Police Station in Brno, in southern Czech Republic. Mr Pecha had reportedly been detained for petty theft of jewellery. The ELS reported to the ERRC that the Ministry of the Interior had, as of August 9, 2002, accepted the account of Mr Pecha's death provided by police officers. According to the police, as Mr Pecha was being escorted to the bathroom, he allegedly pushed through two police officers and jumped out of a window in between the first and second floors in the stairwell of the police station, in an apparent suicide. According to the ELS, on the same date, Mr Pecha's partner, Ms P.E., a 24-year-old Romani woman, filed a written request for information in the case and the cause of death. The ELS took over legal representation in the case, acting on behalf of Ms P.E. on July 22, 2002. The ELS reported to the ERRC that on two separate occasions, July 26 and 29, 2002, it was denied access to the case file, in violation of Czech Criminal Procedure Code Article 65, which states that aggrieved parties and their representatives have the right to examine, take notes on and make copies of case files. According to the ELS, on three separate occasions – June 19, 20 and 21, 2002 - Ms P.E., along with Mr Pecha's mother, sister and brother, was refused copies of the death certificate and the autopsy report at an emergency hospital in Brno.
The ELS then submitted a complaint to the Czech State Attorney and the head of the Brno Police Inspectorate, which stated that staff members at the Brno Police Inspectorate had neglected their duties. On August 6, 2002, the ELS reported to the ERRC that it was finally granted access to the case file, which included a copy of the death certificate and autopsy report. However, the ELS expressed concern that officers of the Police Inspectorate may have manipulated the case file to benefit their colleagues at the Malatova Královo Pole Police Station during the time that they were denied access to it. The ELS also expressed disbelief that Mr Pecha had committed suicide at the Malatova Královo Pole Police Station.
As of September 2, 2002, the ELS informed the ERRC that the investigation into the case had been officially postponed in August. On August 22, 2002, the ELS filed a complaint in response to the postponement of the investigation, but the investigation had not, as of September 2, 2002, resumed. As of November 12, 2002, the ERRC was unaware of further actions in the case. Further information on the situation of Roma in Czech Republic, and particularly police violence against Roma, is available on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://lists.errc.org/publications/indices/czechrepublic.shtml
(Environmental Law Service, ERRC)