Saturday night the members of the Veszprém handball team decided to have a celebratory night out. One of their colleagues, Gergő Iváncsik, and his wife had just had a baby. They picked a bar/disco sometimes called Skorpió, sometimes Patrióta. They rented a separate room in the cellar for the gathering, but occasionally the handball players left to join the others on the dance floor on the ground floor. Their celebration soon turned into a nightmare.
The day before a young man from Enying (Fejér county) exchanged some harsh words with F.B., a well known thug in town. This man most likely was Iván Sztojka. Sztojka wanted to retaliate against F.B., this time with a show of force. He enlisted a group of fifteen or twenty friends and relatives who went to Veszprém in search of F.B.
They first went to the bar and ordered drinks, but F.B. wasn't there. For whatever reason, they decided not to pay their tab. The barmaid demanded that they settle up. In response, they grabbed her by the hair and banged her head a couple of times on the counter. According to some reports she broke her jaw. At this point some of the handball players came to the girl's assistance. A fight ensued, during which one of Sztojka's cohorts smashed a chair on the head of Zarko Sesum, a Serbian player. He was the luckiest of the three players. The attacking group either forced two of the players outside or they were foolish enough to follow them, but by then knives were drawn. Marian Cozma, a Romanian player, received a mortal stab wound directly through his heart while Ivan Pesic, a Croatian who tried to help Cozma, was stabbed in the back. As a result, he lost one of his kidneys. Cozma is dead, Sesum and Pesic are in the hospital.
Well, this horrific event has two broader consequences. First, in the sports world this handball team was very promising. Cozma, for example, was a member of Romania's national team. The club is famous for recruiting promising youngsters from all over. As the coach tearfully announced, he just lost half his team. In a week or so they were supposed to play against Spain. The other problem is that the alleged perpetrators are Gypsies. This brutal incident happening only a few days after the Miskolc fiasco is most unfortunate. There were demonstrations already not only in Veszprém but in other towns as well. Thousands gathered and, just as in Miskolc, they were not there only to mourn the dead. The Magyar Gárda (Hungarian Guard) also made an appearance. Comments written in response to articles chronicling the events are uniformly fiercely anti-Gypsy. Even in left-liberal papers. I don't want to repeat them here but they are either outright racist (genetic garbage) or express total distrust of the Hungarian police force. One commentator hoped that ordinary citizens would get hold of the two suspects because that will be the only way they get their deserved fate. Lynching, I guess.
By this afternoon the police identified two men, both Gypsies, as the alleged perpetrators. One is Iván Sztojka from Enying whom I mentioned earlier and the other is Sándor Raffael from Sárbogárd. One of the enterprising readers of the news already discovered that Sztojka's name can be found on www.iwiw.hu (international who's who of Hungarians). I checked it out and although the picture on iwiw is small it bears a suspicious resemblance to the police photo of our Sztojka. The pictures of the two men can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/cny349 The bloodthirsty Hungarian who was hoping that the irate public would find the two men might be frustrated because it seems that Sándor Raffael was already caught, mind you not by the Hungarian but by the Austrian police. Sztojka is still at large.
The police might be able to round up the guilty ones but that won't resolve the real problem of the growing anti-Gypsy sentiment. Tibor Draskovics, the minister in charge of the police who already had enough trouble in Miskolc, is now confronted with a new crisis. He rushed to Veszprém where he tried to explain that crime is universal and that it is unfair to blame the Gypsy community as a whole, but it is becoming clear that this kind of explanation will not satisfy the Hungarian public. Draskovics late at night on MTV (Szólás szabadsága) admitted that something must be done to foster Gypsy integration. But even if there were tons of money (and there isn't) a serious effort in this direction might take two or three generations. Does Hungarian society have that much time? It is enough to think of the U.S. effort to integrate African Americans. Although in the last forty or fifty years the United States has made great strides in developing an educated black middle class, the country's problems are still not over. There remains a large black underclass in this country. And the Hungarian Gypsies' situation today is far worse than the American situation fifty years ago. Put it this way, Hungary has a lot problems and they are not just financial.