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Gašpar: Police raid on Moldava nad Bodvou was not revenge against Roma

The police raid of the Roma settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou (in Košice Region) on June 19 was a search for wanted individuals and stolen items and not an act revenge [for local Roma pelting police officers with stones earlier on Sunday, June 16], Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar told MPs of the parliamentary human rights’ committee on Wednesday, July 3.

The police raid of the Roma settlement in Moldava nad Bodvou (in Košice Region) on June 19 was a search for wanted individuals and stolen items and not an act revenge [for local Roma pelting police officers with stones earlier on Sunday, June 16], Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar told MPs of the parliamentary human rights’ committee on Wednesday, July 3.

Gašpar added that most of the published information about the crackdown is either untrue, half-true or misleading. The case is being investigated by the Interior Ministry and if any wrongdoing is uncovered, appropriate measures against specific police members will be taken, said Gašpar as quoted by the TASR newswire.

According to him, police are paying closer attention to Moldava nad Bodvou because it is a region where the security situation has taken a turn for the worse this year. Vice-mayor Eva Paulinská confirmed for the Sme daily increasing cases of problems with local Roma.

While the police officers involved deny any allegations of brutality during the raid, the opposition is highly critical of the use of force by police. "Prevention is more important than repression and sanctions," said Pavol Hrušovský of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) for TASR. Human rights' committee chairman Rudolf Chmel (Most-Híd) thinks that the use of force is not the best way for the police to demand respect. "Undoubtedly, if it were me out there becoming the victim of such a crackdown, I'd act with more respect afterwards, but this is not the best way to go," he claimed.

Vladimír Jánoš of Smer stressed that the committee does not have enough information at its disposal to assess whether human rights were violated during the police action and pointed to the ongoing investigation. Chmel shares this view. "The report from the minister is too vague for us to be able to take any stance on the case without knowing something conclusive about the inspection," he added as quoted by TASR.

Civil association Environmental Training Project Slovensko maintains that during the police SWAT team operation more than 30 people, including children and a baby, were injured. Police apprehended 15 people and charged two individuals with an attack against a public official. One of the accused attempted to attack an officer with an axe from behind, say the police. The case is being monitored by Amnesty International and the European Centre for Roma Rights.

Sme wrote that none of the injured Roma have been contacted yet in the investigation of the raid. Gašpar denied police brutality, admitting for the daily that such raids should be obligatorily video-recorded, but refused to discuss recording interrogations at the police station.

(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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