The mother and the sister of a Romani man who was beaten to death by police in Arad, Romania have filed a criminal complaint against two local police officers who were involved. The complaint was filed on 7th August 2023 and requests that the officers be held criminally liable as co-perpetrators. Legal support is being provided by RomaJust and the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC).
The 33-year-old Romani man, named Muszunye Mircea Vișan (known as Vișinel), died in a police station in Arad on the night of Friday 14th July, 2023 after police officers beat him until he went into cardiac-arrest. He was buried on the morning of 18th July in Lipova at a service attended by his family and friends. The family claims that the local police officers exceeded their duties, behaved abusively towards the man, and physically assaulted him until his death.
Two police officers, Florea Ciprian Nicolae and Liber Florin Nicolae, from the Public Order Bureau of the Arad Local Police Department arrested the Romani man for an alleged disturbance of the peace on Friday 14th July. They brought him by police car to the headquarters on Victoriei Street. The police claim that Vișinel was homeless with a history of drug abuse. Those who knew him say he was a quiet man who lived in the town of Lipova, on Mărășești Street.
At the police headquarters, the officers claim Vișinel attacked them, threw a bottle at them, and sprayed them with beer. In response, the officers physically assaulted him in an alleged attempt to pacify him. Their interventions continued until Vișinel foamed at the mouth and went into cardio-respiratory arrest. Paramedics were called and he was taken to Arad County Clinical Hospital where, despite the interventions of medical staff, he was declared dead on Saturday morning.
The autopsy lists the cause of death as “psychoactive substance intoxication” without any reference to the violence done to him by the officers at the police headquarters. The ERRC is aware of surveillance camera footage from inside the building which recorded the interventions of the officers against the Romani man. According to a statement issued by the police, a criminal file has been opened into the incident. The two arresting officers also attended the emergency ward of the hospital on Friday evening. One of them claimed to have been assaulted by the deceased man (sprayed with beer and hit with a bottle). Both officers did not go to work the following day due to ”shock suffered”.
“We provide legal support to this family because we refuse to let Vișinel become just another statistic” said the ERRC’s President, Đorđe Jovanović. “Police beat, torture, and kill Roma throughout Europe almost every week, and Romania’s police have already been labelled as institutionally racist by the European Court of Human Rights. The need is critical for the EU to take action to tackle systemic racism in law enforcement. It should be obvious by now that all the best practices, workshops, and police trainings in the world make little to no difference in addressing racist policing. Romani communities hardly benefit from policing at all, and for years now it has been clear to us that police forces will not improve on their own. We need EU legislation to hold member states to account for the actions of their law enforcement.”
The ERRC and RomaJust will pursue all legal options available, including via the European Court of Human rights if Romanian legal remedies are unable to provide justice for the family of Vișinel.
This press release is also available in Romanian.
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