AI calls for protection of Roma ahead of murder trial

Budapest, March 25 (MTI) – The forthcoming trial of the suspects of the multiple Roma murders should carry a clear message to the public that the Roma communities should be protected against all racially motivated violent assaults and harassment, Amnesty International told MTI in a statement on Friday.

The trial of the four defendants accused of having killed six Roma people, including a five-year-old child, and seriously wounding five others, in Hungarian villages between July 2008 and August 2009 started at the Pest County Court on Friday amidst keen media interest and tight security in Budapest.

The series of attacks traumatised the Roma communities and kept them in permanent fear, AI said.

The human rights organisations expressed criticism that Hungarian authorities still lack appropriate instruments for investigating racially motivated crime.

Referring to recent incidents at the village of Gyongyospata in northern Hungary, AI expressed concern that police failed to make every possible step to prevent the harassment of the local Roma population.

A civil group calling itself the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future has been patrolling the village since early March citing an increase in crime among the local Roma.

On March 6 the radical nationalist Jobbik party staged a demonstration in the village in support of the action.