Arson to evict a Romani woman in Romania

02 April 1998

Police allegedly acted improperly while investigating an incident of arson against a Roma woman in the town of Botez, in the Aţîntiş commune in Mureş County. Mrs M.K., an elderly Romani woman, was burned out of a house built during the Communist era on land which had been expropriated from the D. family. Under the 1991 laws pertaining to restitution, the land was not supposed to be returned to the D. family, since Mrs M.K. was living on it. The D. family was, instead, entitled to other land as compensation. On the evening of August 5, 1997, Mr V.D. set fire to her house and burned it to the ground, apparently under the belief that if Mrs M.K. and her house were not there, he would be entitled to lay claim to the property. Mr V.D. was reportedly later overheard speaking openly about the act in a local pub. The police in Aţîntiş opened an investigation, but after Mr V.D. approached Mrs M.K. and offered to pay damages, Mrs M.K. requested that the investigation be stopped. The police evidently agreed to cease investigating, even though under Romanian law, investigation of serious crimes, including arson (Article 217, paragraph 4 of the Romanian Penal Code), should continue independent of the will of the victim. In September, however, Mrs M.K. went back to the police and attempted to renew her complaint because Mr V.D. had not paid her. The police allegedly then told her that since she had withdrawn the complaint previously, it was not now possible to reopen the case. In response to a letter sent by the local non-governmental organisation Liga Pro Europa about the case, the police stated that they were, in fact, investigating. Liga Pro Europa received a second letter in January stating that the police investigation was over and that the case file had been forwarded to the prosecutor’s office. On January 26, the prosecutor brought arson charges against Mr V.D.. The first court hearing will take place on March 19. The ERRC is following the case closely.

(ERRC, Liga Pro Europa)


Challenge discrimination, promote equality


Receive our public announcements Receive our Roma Rights Journal


The latest Roma Rights news and content online

join us

Find out how you can join or support our activities