Police Brutality against Romani Youths in Bulgaria

07 May 2002

According to the Sofia-based, non-governmental organisation Romani Baht Foundation, on November 29, 2001, at approximately 7:00 PM, Rumen Vasilev Vasilev, 17, Mr Traicho Ivov Marinov, 19, and Kiril Rumenov Metodiev, 16, all of Romani origin, were arrested in Sofia on suspicion of having committed a theft and were beaten by police while in detention. According to the Romani Baht Foundation, the three Roma were helping a friend move his grandmother's property, when they were arrested by two police officers and transported to the sixth police station in Sofia. The youths reported to Romani Baht Foundation that they were beaten together in the corridor of the police station, then transported to the Zemen police station, via Pernik and Radomir. Romani Baht Foundation reports that upon arrival at the police station in Zemen, the youths were not charged, but were placed in a room where several officers allegedly took turns beating them, for a period of time that the youths cannot recall. The youths reported to Romani Baht Foundation that the officers repeatedly hit them in the face with their fists, and kicked them many times in the groin area and ribs. The officers also reportedly hit the youths on their backs with wire. According to the Romani Baht Foundation, the youths were then interrogated for some time by police officers. Two of the youths were reportedly interrogated without the presence of a lawyer or pedagogue, in contravention of Bulgarian law.

According to Romani Baht Foundation, on the morning of November 30, 2001, the parents of the detained Roma went to the sixth police station to ask after their children. Allegedly, they were told by the officer-on-duty that he did not know where their children were and that they should leave the police station immediately or they would be arrested. The parents then reportedly went to the ninth police station, because one of them had a friend working as an officer there. The officer allegedly made an inquiry and reported to the parents that their children were at the Zemen police station. Romani Baht Foundation reports that late in afternoon on the same day, the parents went to the Zemen police station and asked about their children. The officer-on-duty reportedly told them to wait for chief of the station. While waiting outside the station, the parents allege that, through a low second floor window, they witnessed officers beating their children. Romani Baht Foundation reports that after a few hours, the police chief arrived at the station, and the parents asked him about their children and informed him that they saw his officers ill-treating their children. The police chief, who the parents of the Roma youths allege was drunk, reportedly told the parents that they could take their children when the interrogation was complete. He also reportedly made offensive statements about their ethnic origin.

Late in the evening of November 30, 2001, Rumen Vasilev Vasilev, Mr Traicho Ivov Marinov and Kiril Rumenov Metodiev were released from custody. Romani Baht Foundation reports that the next day, the parents brought the three Romani youths to obtain medical certificates to prove their injuries. Medical certificates issued on November 30, 2001, document that Kiril Rumenov Metodiev and Rumen Vasilev Vasilev suffered pain, while Mr Traicho Ivov Marinov suffered pain and suffering caused by blunt objects, which could have been caused in the manner stated by the victims.

Rumen Vasilev Vasilev, Mr Traicho Ivov Marinov, and Kiril Rumenov Metodiev, with the assistance of Romani Baht Foundation and the support of the ERRC, have filed legal complaints against the officers concerned.

(Romani Baht Foundation)


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