SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia’s interior minister said two police officers were suspended Friday over the beating of a Roma man, a form of brutality that rights groups said is a disturbingly frequent occurrence.
Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski said one of the officers was also charged with unjustified use of force. His colleague was suspended for allegedly doing nothing to stop the beating of the man, who was involved in a car accident in the southern town of Bitola.
The action came after the country's Avaja non-governmental organization posted a video on social media allegedly showing a policeman brutally beating and kicking the Roma man on Saturday.
“The Interior Ministry strongly condemns any case of violence, especially when it is committed by a police officer," Spasovski said. “No such act can be justified.”
The Avaja NGO said another three Roma men reported that they also were recently beaten by police in Bitola. The organization is planning a Saturday protest against police brutality targeting the Roma, who comprise about 2.7% of North Macedonia's 2.1 million people.
North Macedonia's Helsinki Committee also strongly condemned the man's beating and said police frequently brutalize Roma people. The rights watchdog said it recorded another incident three months ago when police allegedly beat homeless Roma living in the main railway station in the capital, Skopje.