Ex-police officers accused of bullying Roma boys acquitted again

Topical issue

Ex-police officers accused of bullying Roma boys acquitted again

18. 05. 2017 13:53

Košice District Court once again acquitted nine men and one woman who, as former police officers, allegedly bullied and mistreated Roma boys at a police station in Košice in 2009, the TASR press agency reports. The Prosecutor-General's Office had pressed charges of abuse of a public official's powers against the former officers, while four were also accused of extortion. According to the indictment, the police officers brought six young Roma aged between 10-16 to Košice-South police station on March 21, 2009. The Roma were suspected of robbing an elderly woman. The police officers allegedly attempted to intimidate the boys - who could not be prosecuted due to their young age - with police dogs, which bit three of them. Subsequently, the minors were forced to slap each other and then kiss. The mistreatment continued in the building's basement, where the suspects were ordered to strip naked within ten seconds, while police officers recorded a video. One of the boys was allegedly suspended over a handrail, beaten and forced to say the name of his mother. A police officer was accused of putting a pistol to the head of another boy and asking him whether he wanted to be shot. The same defendant allegedly ordered the Roma boy to lick his boots and hit another boy with a shovel.

The court ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove that the deed, over which the defendants were being prosecuted, really happened. The District Court thus reaffirmed its original verdict dated from February 2015, which the Regional Court had overridden on an appeal from the prosecutor. Once again, the prosecutor announced that he would file an appeal against this latest verdict as well. The case drew attention from the media and the public due to a video showing the police officers at Košice-South station humiliating the boy. The court did not accept the footage as evidence, however, stating that the edited video had not been acquired in a lawful manner. Therefore, the prosecution had to rely only on the testimonies of witnesses. The court also pointed to significant incongruities in the witness testimonies. None of the defendants were present for the court session on Wednesday. Out of the former boys, now young men, only one was there in person, brought from the prison where he is serving a sentence for theft.

Anca Dragu, Photo: TASR

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