More police abuse of Roma in Macedonia

07 December 1999

The Štip-based Association for Roma Rights Protection (ARRP) registered a complaint of police brutality with the Skopje Ministry of Interior on behalf of Mr Severdžan Dželovski, a 24-year-old Romani man from Štip. According to information provided to the ARRP, on August 28, Mr Dželovski went to Skopje's Bit Pazar market to purchase, among other things, thirty cartons of cigarettes. At the market, Mr Dželovski was stopped by two uniformed police officers who accused him of smuggling cigarettes. One of the officers started kicking and hitting him all over his body. The same officer called for a police car, which took Mr Dželovski to the local police station. At the station, Mr Dželovski was taken into an office, where an officer allegedly told him, "I like beating Gypsies very much!" and started beating him with a truncheon. After one hour of abuse, his face was covered with blood and his body was numb. He was then transferred to a solitary confinement cell where he was held for five more hours and then released. Weakened by his ordeal, Mr Dželovski found his way to the Skopje bus station and took a bus to Štip. The next day he sought medical treatment in Štip but there is no record of his injuries as he could not obtain a medical protocol. As of November 3, 1999, the police have not filed any charges against him.

A further instance of police brutality against Roma was registered in Negotino, central Macedonia, approximately 100 km southeast of Skopje, by the Gostivar-based Roma organisation Mesečina. At approximately 10 AM on September 20, 1999, two policemen came to the house of Mr Dževad Elmazov, a 32-year-old Romani man, in the village of Krivolak in the Negotino municipality. They asked Mr Elmazov to come to the police station in Negotino, assuring him it would take "no more than five minutes". At the station, he was taken into an office by Deputy Police Chief Z.S. As Mr Elmazov entered the office, Officer Z.S. allegedly grabbed him by the neck and slapped him in the face twice. Officer Z.S. accused him of committing a robbery in July 1999 and demanded that he tell them the whereabouts of 3000 German marks (approximately 1530 euros) that he was alleged to have stolen.

For the next five and a half hours, Officer Z.S. kept Mr Elmazov in the office, all the while accusing him of committing the robbery and verbally assaulting him. Officer Z.S. handcuffed Mr Elmazov and told him to kneel before him and confess to the crime. He ordered Mr Elmazov to sit down and stand up continuously, and threatened Elmazov that if he did not confess, the torture would continue through the next several shifts. Finally, when Officer Z.S. threatened Mr Elmazov with being tied to the back of a police van and dragged handcuffed to his home village, Mr Elmazov gave a false statement confessing to the robbery. He was not given his testimony to read and sign. Officer Z.S. then took Mr Elmazov back to his home and, without a warrant, searched his house. Officer Z.S. allegedly confiscated 100 German marks (approximately 50 euros), 1100 Macedonian denars (approximately 20 euros), and a new pair of shoes. He then brought Mr Elmazov back to the police station, where Mr Elmazov was given a receipt for the confiscated goods, and released. Two days after the incident, on September 22, Mr Elmazov requested a meeting with the chief of the Negotino police station, at which the chief claimed he did not know anything about this case at all. On September 25, Mr Elmazov met Officer Z.S. in the street, and the policeman again verbally abused him. Mr Elmazov has filed criminal charges against the policeman with the county court, but as of October 26, he had not received any information concerning the progress of the case. No charges have been brought against him in relation to the alleged robbery.

(Association for Roma Rights Protection, Mesečina)


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