Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Hungarian authorities say a death brigade may have been responsible for several deadly attacks against Hungarian Gypsies, also known as Roma, BosNewsLife learned Saturday, February 28. The revelations came just days after a father and his young son were shot and killed as they tried to escape from their burning home in a village near Budapest.
In the snow, investigators found blood and parts of the petrol bomb that caused Monday’s fire in Tatarszentgyorgy village, about 65 kilometers south east of Budapest. The head of the local police’s criminal department, Peter Papp, said 27-year old Robert Csorba and son of five were apparently shot dead as they tried to escape their house, which had been set on fire. Two other children, three and six, were seriously injured in the blaze, villagers claimed.
Papp said his team is continuing its investigations. “But one thing is clear, we know now that the autopsy has shown that the father and his young son suffered a violent death,” he explained. The incident is the latest in a series of attacks on Roma houses in which some seven people have died over the past year.
The National Investigation Office, Hungary’s equivalant of the F-B-I, has revealed that the violence may have been carried out by a death brigade targeting Roma. “Evidence discovered so far suggests that we are dealing with a series of crimes,” said the National Investigation Office Director Attila Petofi. “It appears that the perpatrators are from the same circle of criminals.”
For the residents of the village of Tatarszengyorgy Monday’s hate crime didn’t came as a surprise. They recalled that the far right paramilitary group Magyar Garda, or Hungarian Guard, has been marching through the village, intimidating the Roma population. Video footage, seen by BosNewsLife, showed angry young man dressed in uniforms and carrying a flag resembling the one use by Hungarians during the Nazi-era. They protested against what they called “Gypsy crime.”
While Magyar Garda has denied involvement in criminal activities, a court has banned
the group, saying it had created an anti-Roma atmosphere. However its activists plan to continue anyway, but in a downgraded form.
There are concerns that extremism towards Roma will increase at a time when far
right groups seek scapegoats for Hungary’s economic crisis. Tensions have also increased following the murder of international Romanian handball player Marian Cozma in a nightclub in Hungary, which was linked to Roma.
The police chief in Pest country, Sandor Armos, has also admitted that staff members have been reluctant to investigate this week’s Roma murders.
He said officers would face disciplinary procedures for the mistakes they made. Officers even failed to “conduct a thorough search for hot clues around the murder scene,” he explained. “They even passed by the bullets fired from the murder weapon which were later discovered just a few meters from the house.”
However police also announced the arrest of a suspect in an attack last year on a Roma home in the city of Pecs in which the parents were killed.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has called for an investigation into police action towards Roma and pledged to step up police patrols in volatile areas. Some seven people were killed in anti-Roma violence in the past year.
Jewish and Roma groups have also urged him to help ensure Hungary will see better anti-hate speech legislation to protect Hungary’s up to 800.000 Roma population.