Bratislava (AFP) – Thousands of Slovaks rallied in the capital Bratislava on Friday to pay tribute to a murdered Filipino expat, beaten to death by man believed to be a neo-Nazi.
Henry Acorda, a 36-year-old Filipino living in Slovakia, was assaulted in the heart of the capital on May 26 by 28-year-old Juraj H., whose surname has been withheld pending trial.
Five days later Acorda died in hospital from injuries he sustained in the attack.
Organisers told the local Dennik N daily that around 3,000 protesters, mostly in their twenties, turned out for the memorial rally that began with a violinist playing a mournful tune.
Some carried banners reading “Justice for Henry” and “Nazi brain burn in hell”. Others laid flowers and lit candles at an improvised memorial where the attack occurred.
CCTV footage made available to the media showed that Juraj H. hit Acorda, who then fell and became unconscious.
The attacker continued to kick Acorda in the head and used a mobile phone to photograph him laying in the street.
Prosecutors have charged Juraj H. with manslaughter and placed him in pre-trial detention. If found guilty, he could face up to 12 years in behind bars.
Police have neither confirmed nor denied that the attack was racially motivated.
Juraj H. said he “will be sorry for what happened for the rest of my life. But I don’t remember anything,” while being escorted from court on Monday.
The Friday rally was organised on Facebook by four anti-fascist groups.
“The information that we have about Juraj H. makes it clear that he is inclined to support the far right,” they wrote.
“Let’s make sure this brutal murder does not go without consequences for him.”
The organisers pointed to the fact that Juraj H. used his Facebook profile to post a white Ku Klux Klan robe captioned: “Ku Klux Klan outfit not bad”.
He also posted a photo of a Russian vodka bottle captioned “white power”.
Several Slovak politicians have also condemned the attack, including leftist Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini.
“These are very bad signals to our society. We must not have mercy on the murderer and justice must be served immediately,” he told the Dennik N daily.
However, his Smer Social Democracy party and its SNS nationalist coalition partner both campaigned on a staunchly anti-Muslim and anti-refugee platform ahead of the 2016 election that brought them to power, something analysts say paved the way for the extreme right Our Slovakia to enter parliament for the first time.
Its leader Marian Kotleba is known for harsh anti-Roma and anti-migrant views and for leading street marches with party members dressed in black neo-Nazi black uniforms.