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OSCE examines Moldava police raid

INTERNATIONAL human rights authorities are looking into a mid-June police raid that allegedly left dozens of Roma injured in the eastern-Slovak town of Moldava nad Bodvou.

INTERNATIONAL human rights authorities are looking into a mid-June police raid that allegedly left dozens of Roma injured in the eastern-Slovak town of Moldava nad Bodvou.

Eyewitnesses claim some 50 SWAT unit police officers in approximately 20 cars rode into Moldava nad Bodvou’s Budulovská Roma settlement, late in the afternoon June 19. They then raided homes in the settlement, according to a statement issued by ETP Slovensko, a non-profit group that works with ethnic minorities. Police detained 15 people. Some 30 people were reportedly injured during the raid, according to the group.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has asked the Interior Ministry to investigate the incident and requested a report on police conduct, according to the Sme daily. Police and ministry officials deny any wrongdoing. The report is due July 10.

Janez Lenarčič, director of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, sent a July 2 letter asking “for information about measures the Interior Ministry passed with the aim of securing the independent, thorough and effective investigation of the police action”, the Interior Ministry’s Ivan Netík told Sme.

Lenarčič also pointed to a 2003 OSCE action plan which called for improving relations between police and Roma, questioning whether those goals had been met. That document proposed creating a code of ethics for police officers, as well as specific methods for dealing with Roma.

The raid

The raid was preceded by a conflict involving some settlement residents with a police patrol after a party on the night of June 16, according to ETP Slovensko. That conflict saw police detain two of the local Roma men. One was released four days later and the other remains in custody, according to Sme. Both are being prosecuted in connection with the clash, during which a police patrol car was damaged. Locals contend that the June 19 raid came as revenge for the earlier incident, according to the testimonies recorded by the Roma Media Centre (MECEM).

Some of those injured on June 19 were treated at the emergency room of the Moldava hospital. A 6-month-old child lost consciousness during the raid and was hospitalised in Košice, though the child’s condition was not connected with the raid, hospital doctors told Sme.

“Based on all available information and the inspection of the raid scene there is a strong suspicion that the police might have inappropriately used means of enforcement and violated the respective legal measures during the raid,” ETP Slovensko wrote.

Police: reports are misleading

Parliament has already looked into the incident. On July 3, Police President Tibor Gašpar told the parliamentary human rights committee that information circulating about the police raid has been misleading and untrue, the SITA newswire reported. Gašpar claimed that no one was injured as a result of police activity.

Police officials have not received any information from the physicians to indicate that injuries occurred as a result of the police action, Gašpar said, adding that the injured baby was unrelated to the police action. Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák has also accused the media of reporting misleading information, SITA reported.

The parliamentary committee will await the Interior Ministry’s report on the incident before taking an official stance. Deputy Lucia Žitňanská, of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), and non-governmental organisations suggest that the police start talking to people from the settlement about the police raid, according to SITA.

The parliamentary committee also expects a report about the raid from the cabinet proxy for the Roma community, Peter Pollák.

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