VIGILS have been held across the UK following the death of a Roma man who died after being restrained by police.

Glasgow's Roma population came together yesterday to join calls from human rights organisations for an urgent investigation into the death of Stanislav Tomáš in the Czech Republic.

In an incident being compared to the death of George Floyd in America, footage of the police restraining Stanislav went viral online.

Rahela Cirpaci, a spokeswoman for charity Romana Lav, said: "The vigil today was very emotional.

Glasgow Times: Three-year-old Contessa Milosiu  Picture: Colin Mearns

"This is very important for us because we, as a community, need to stand up and speak up against police brutality and we need to share what has happened to Stanislav as widely as possible.

"We all in the Roma community are scared and angry and we just can't believe what happened to him; we are praying for his family and friends right now and we hope that he gets justice and that his case is investigated.

"No one should go through what he went through."

Amnesty International released a statement about the death of Stanislav, calling the neck restraint used during his arrest "reckless, unnecessary and disproportionate, and therefore unlawful".

The Council of Europe called for an “urgent, thorough, and independent investigation”, calling the police action "alarming".

Glasgow Times:

Stanislav was arrested on June 19 and died shortly later in an ambulance.

Footage shared on social media appears to show police officers pinning him to the ground with one kneeling on his neck and his back.

Supporters say there are echoes of the death of George Floyd, who was killed when officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder earlier this year, knelt on his neck during his arrest.

Rahela said it believed Stanislav was trying to break up a fight between two men who were damaging cars when he was targeted by police.

Czech police reject that version of events.

Glasgow Times:

In a statement, Czech police said: “According to a preliminary autopsy report, the man was suspected of being affected by a foreign substance of the amphetamine family, and autopsy revealed pathological changes in the coronary arteries.”

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, regional police spokesman, Daniel Vítek, said the police received a complaint regarding two men fighting and damaging cars.

He said: "After the police arrived, we found an injured man without his shirt.

"When the police came close, he was aggressive; he scratched and bit them.

"The police had to use coercive measures before calling the ambulance, where he died despite resuscitation efforts.

"The doctor present at the scene said the cause of death was most likely due to intoxication.”

The police also tweeted a video titled “No Czech Floyd ...” with footage of two people running, shouting and approaching cars in a street.

Jana Puskova, a member of the Czech Roma community in Govanhill, spoke to the gathering in Queen's Park yesterday, held next to the Roma Holocaust memorial.

She said: "The international element is so important.

"To have an event like this - and we've seen other ones in Italy and Berlin - we don't feel like he had support in the Czech Republic, so this international pressure is so important.

"Being here, being Roma in Govanhill, it's so important to feel supported.

Glasgow Times:

"Power is so unequal - who is going to punish the police? If the prime minister and the structure there in the Czech Republic won't investigate then there is this need for support from abroad."

Rahela added: "We are asking ourselves, can this happen to our families? Is this what other families are going to have to go through?

"We want better for our children, we don't want them to have to go through this.

"We hope that Stanislav gets peace, he is in a better place now.

"But we have to keep pressure on the police for a full investigation into what happened."

Vigils for Tomáš are also being held in the Czech Republic, Berlin and Brussels.