Hungarian police have detained four men on suspicion of carrying out
attacks in which at least six Roma, or Gypsies as they are also called,
were killed. The violence has
underscored growing ethnic tension in the European Union nation.
police say the men, aged 28 to 42, were captured Friday in the eastern
city of Debrecen on suspicion of involvement in deadly attacks against
Gypsies, who prefer to be known as Roma.
National police chief
Jozsef Bencze has told reporters that evidence seized during house
searches and at different crime scenes link the suspects to acts of
deadly violence within the past year.
He says police have
appropriate evidence to link the men to the killings. Bencze adds that
racism appears to have been the main motive. He has described the
attacks, as the "biggest, most complicated and most serious series of
murders in the history of Hungarian criminology."
The killings were carried out mainly in small countryside villages predominantly settled by Roma.
February, in what was seen as one of the most brutal attacks on Roma,
police said Robert Csorba and his five-year-old son were shot dead when
they tried to flee their home that was set on fire.
mother, Erzsebet Csorba, lives next to the destroyed home where she
lost her son and grandson, on a muddy road in the Hungarian village of
Tatarszentgyorgy, 65 kilometers outside Budapest.
She tells VOA that she will never forget what happened that night.
woke up from hearing three shots outside in the garden," said Csorba.
"And I woke up my husband also because I wanted to go with him to see
what happened. When we came out here outside of the door, we saw
immediately the burning house of my son."
"So I ran around the
house and here on the side of the house there is a little forest and I
found my son. "They shot me down, they shot me down," were the last
words that he said. And we also found the little boy. His whole small
body was full with holes from the bullets. He was still breathing," she
In one of the cases this month, a 45-year-old Roma woman
was killed in the eastern village of Kisleta and her 13-year-old
daughter was seriously injured when police say gunmen broke into their
home at night and shot the victims in their sleep.
Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center, or ERRC, suggests that the
attacks to which detained suspects are linked are no isolated
incidents. ERRC Programmes Coordinator Tara Bedard has told VOA News
there have been dozens of attacks against the approximately 800,000
Roma living in Hungary.
"There's been 30 attacks in the last
two years. And that we know off, I believe that seven people have
died," said Bedard. "I think the most frequent type of attack that has
been occurring in the past is people showing up with Molotov cocktails
and throwing them into or at the homes of Roma in several towns of the
Some human rights groups and Roma leaders say the
attacks come at a time when right-wing extremists are searching for
scapegoats for Hungary's current economic crisis.
groups targeting what they call "Gypsy crime" have become increasingly
popular in Hungary, adding to international concerns over ethnic
tensions in this European Union nation.