Slovakia shooting outside LGBTQ+ bar could be terrorism, prosecutor says
Authorities in Slovakia could consider the deadly shooting of two people at an LGBTQ+ bar by a ‘radicalised teen’ as an act of terrorism, a prosecutor said.
Two men were killed in a shooting outside Tepláreň, a popular gay bar in the Slovakian capital Bratislava on Wednesday (12 October) night. Police on Friday (14 October) identified those killed as Matus H, a 23-year-old university student, and Juraj V (26).
Radoslava T, a woman who is believed to have worked at the venue, was wounded on her leg during the attack and is recovering in hospital.
Slovakian police have said publicly that they are working to determine whether 19-year-old Juraj K, the suspected attacker, was driven to commit the horrific crime by hateful motives. Authorities found the suspect dead on Thursday (13 October).
Prime minister Eduard Heger strongly condemned the “murder of two young people shot dead in Bratislava” by a “radicalised teenager” in a statement on Twitter.
“No form of white supremacy, racism and extremism against communities, incl. LGBTI, can be tolerated,” Heger wrote.
Slovakian media reported the main suspect posted a lengthy manifesto against the LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities on Twitter before the killings. He also posted messages with the phrases “hate crime” and “gay bar” hashtagged on the social media platform, local news reported.
Special prosecutor Daniel Lipsic said the suspected gunman’s manifesto and additional evidence were being closely examined as part of the investigation, Reuters reported. He said the initial evidence could lead authorities to consider the attack an “act of terrorism”.
“The suspicion is that the motive of this act was to destabilise society,” Lipsic said. “These points lead us to the possible consideration that we could classify this criminal offence as an act of terrorism.”
The attack was met with shock and widespread condemnation from politicians and the LGBTQ+ community.
President Zuzana Čaputová condemned the attack in a statement on Twitter and warned that spreading hate can have serious consequences.
“Words can become weapons. Hate kills,” Čaputová said. “As politicians, we must weigh every word we say before it’s too late.”
European commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter that these “abhorrent murders are a threat to our societies built on respect and tolerance”.
“The EU is committed to helping fight hate crime and speech in all form,” she added. “We must protect the LGBTIQ community.”
My thoughts are with the families of the victims of the shooting in Bratislava.
These abhorrent murders are a threat to our societies built on respect and tolerance.
The EU is committed to helping fight hate crime and speech in all form.
We must protect the LGBTIQ community.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 13, 2022
Local LGBTQ+ groups organised a memorial march on Friday night outside the bar to honour the victims and take a stand against anti-LGBTQ+ hate in Slovakia.
A coalition of LGBTQ+ groups in Slovakia condemned the “unprecedented” attack, which they believed was motivated by “hatred” towards the queer community, in a statement on Facebook.
The groups called on Slovakian people to ensure such horrific violence never happens again by treating queer people equally in society.
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