Fatal Shooting and Skinhead Attack against Roma in Croatia

29 October 2003

In the hamlet of Poljica near Imotski in southern Croatia, Mr I.L., a 50-year-old ethnic Croatian man, shot and killed Mr Alen Šečić, a 20-year-old Romani man from Zagreb, on April 18, 2003, according to the Croatian national daily newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija from Split of April 23, 2003. As reported by the daily, at around 1:30 PM on the day of the killing, Mr Šečić was walking from one house in Poljica to another in the company of a Romani man and woman, offering carpets for sale. In front of one house he met Mr I.L., who lived in the house next door. Mr I.L. was allegedly intoxicated at that point and angered that Roma were selling goods on Good Friday, immediately after the traditional village procession. The daily reported that Mr I.L., who was carrying his gun on his person, shot Mr Šečić in the neck, killing him. While Mr I.L. claimed the killing of Mr Šečić was not racially motivated, Romani activists in Croatia are outraged at the killing of Mr Šečić and believe it can only be attributed to his ethnicity, according to the Zagreb-based Romani woman's association Better Future and the Roma Culture Center. According to Slobodna Dalmacija, as of April 23, 2003, local police had placed Mr I.L. in detention and the police investigation was ongoing. As of September 24, 2003, the ERRC was unaware of further developments in the case.

Earlier, a group of non-Romani youths attacked a Romani man in Zagreb, the Croatian capital, on February 23, 2003, according to the Croatian national daily newspaper Večernji list of February 24, 2003. Mr Safet Muratović, a Romani man from Zagreb, was searching through a pile of scrap metal at around 4:00 PM in the Resnički Put area, when a group of around ten young non-Romani males attacked him without any apparent reason. The non-Roma reportedly hit Mr Muratović with their hands and kicked him. After Mr Muratović managed to set himself free and run away, the attackers reportedly broke several windows and lights on his van, then set the van on fire with a Molotov cocktail. Some people living in the area called the police, who afterwards reportedly caught two of the attackers. Mr Mura-tović sought medical aid at a Zagreb hospital, where he received treatment for light injuries. Večernji list quoted Mr Kasum Cana, president of the Roma Culture Centre, stating that, on average, two Roma are violently attacked per week in Zagreb and that his association would press charges against the two attackers detained by the police in the Muratović case. As of September 24, 2003, there was no further information in the case.

In another incident, on February 21, 2003, several unknown persons set fire to the garden shed of Mr and Ms Safet and Hanča Mašić, a Romani couple from Zagreb. The ERRC is providing legal defense in the case with the assistance of Ms Lovorka Kušan, a local lawyer. According to the criminal complaint filed on behalf of Mr and Ms Mašić on April 16, 2003, with the Zagreb Public Prosecutor's Office, between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 PM on the day in question, Mr and Ms Mašić's shed burned to the ground. The local fire department prevented the fire from spreading to their home which was located only a few metres away from the shed. Mr and Ms Mašić believe the perpetrators to be three persons who regularly play lawn bowling behind their garden. The persons, whose identities are unknown to Mr and Ms Mašić, have on several occasions in the past, threatened to throw bombs at their home and told them to leave the area while cursing their ethnic origin. The criminal complaint alleges violations of Articles 174(1) (racial discrimination) and 263(1) (public endangerment) of the Croatian Criminal Code. A letter from the police in late September 2003 stated that the three men suspected of the criminal act had informed the police that they were not involved but that they had seen an unknown man behind the Mašić's shed on the day of the incident. As of that date, the police investigation was ongoing. Additional information on the situation of Roma in Croatia can be found on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://www.errc.org.

(ERRC, Slo-bodna Dalmacija, Večernji list)


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