Police abuse of Roma in Croatia

10 September 1998

The Unija Roma Hrvatske (Union of Roma in Croatia) reported to the ERRC the case of 35-year-old Ešef Mujkanović, a Rom who was beaten by the police during arrest in a Zagreb bar on June 22, 1998.

According to the testimony of the waitress working in the bar where the incident took place, Mr Mujkanović came to the bar under the influence of alcohol. He took off his shirt, broke a glass on the bar counter, threw a barstool on some other chairs, called loudly for the bar owner and threatened to beat him. Two police officers who came to intervene after a phone call to the station claim that Mr Mujkanović was first asked to present his ID, which he was not carrying. Instead, he offered them a drink, which they refused. At that moment, according to the statement of one of the officers, Mr Mujkanović swore at them and became violent, so reinforcements were called in, and these subdued Mr Mujka-nović by force. According to the Union of Roma of Croatia, while still in the bar, during the arrest procedure, five to six police officers beat Mr Mujkanović severely, after which he was taken to the police station. Medical reports issued by the Zagreb and Merkur hospitals state that after the arrest, Mr Mujkanović was diagnosed with a concussion and a pain in his left ear, with hearing impaired due to a visible perforation of the tympanum.

The statements of three witnesses summoned to testify in court were contradictory. Nevertheless, Magistrate Bižupić of the Magistrate Court in Zagreb concluded on June 24 that their statements were "logically connected and therefore convincing", and found Mr Mujkanović guilty of violating public order, insulting police officers while performing their duty, not having identification documents with him, and not reporting his address change of three years ago to the authorities. Mujkanović was fined with 1072 kuna (approximately 300 German marks) or twelve days in prison. According to the Union of Roma in Croatia, no disciplinary measures have been taken against the police officers.

(Union of Roma in Croatia)


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