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Analysis: Czech Police say situation after Chomutov shooting not tense, locals say otherwise

16.6.2017 6:56
The scene of the shooting death of a Romani man in Chomutov, Czech Republic on 27 May 2017. (PHOTO:  David Ištok)
The scene of the shooting death of a Romani man in Chomutov, Czech Republic on 27 May 2017. (PHOTO: David Ištok)

In Chomutov the funeral is being prepared of the 34-year-old Romani man who died there on the night of 27 May as a consequence of a gunshot wound. The shooter, who is not Romani, is in custody and facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The shooter is said to have shouted anti-Romani, vulgar abuse prior to the attack. The situation at the housing estate where the man died is, according to information from local residents, still tense.

Paradoxically, despite this fact, for now it is just the family of the victim who have made a public appearance with a statement strong enough to calm those tensions. A police spokesperson told news server Romea.cz, however, that no further disputes have been recorded among locals by police.

"The Police of the Czech Republic do not want to repeatedly draw media interest to this incident by publishing more information about it, as that could lead to possible social tensions among the residents of the housing estate in Chomutov where the incident happened. In that context, we must also point out that to date the Police of the Czech Republic have not registered any disputes among local residents," Jana Slámová, spokesperson for the department of public relations and crime prevention of the Ústecký Regional Police Directorate, told news server Romea.cz.

She went on to deny that the situation there had been tense at all after the shooting and to emphasize that now a standard criminal procedure is underway which, by law, is closed to the public and conducted under the constant supervision of the state prosecutor. "At the same time, we are honoring the request of the surviving family members that their mourning be respected," Slámová told news server Romea.cz.

The Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, which is active in Chomutov, claims to be following the situation at the housing estate where the shooting happened. According to information received by news server Romea.cz, however, the Agency did not respond to the situation at the housing estate until several days after the shooting, and only then under pressure from nonprofit organizations.

"The main work to be done is now on the side of the police officers who are investigating this tragic incident. The town, as our main partner, has received an offer of crisis support and we facilitated the necessary contacts," Lucie Nemešová of the PR and Communications Department of the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion told news server Romea.cz.

"According to our information, nonprofit organizations focused on such cases are in contact with the afflicted family," Nemešová said, adding that the Agency, togther with the town and other local actors, has prepared a strategic plan to increase by five the number of field social workers focusing on housing at that estate. So-called "locality administrators" should also be functioning there.

All of those staffers are meant to regularly meet with representatives of the company that owns the buildings, local police, and crime prevention assistants, and the role of the Agency, according to the spokesperson, is primarily to coordinate those meetings with the aim of connecting the municipality, nonprofits and the police so that they know about each other and their collaboration is assured. Further developments in Chomutov may be (and should be) influenced by the responsible units of the state, including police and other official structures such as the Minister for Human Rights.

The priority should be efforts to reduce escalation of tensions at the housing estate and provide for the security of the surviving family members and other residents. For that reason, it is essential to calming the public in the context of this shooting that police issue clarifying information about the course of the investigation and that other state units not neglect their preventive roles.

The tragic incident happened at about 3 AM on Saturday, 27 May. It was preceded by an argument between the Romani man who was eventually killed and his relatives.

The shooter, a non-Romani resident of the apartment building in front of which the argument took place, was allegedly bothered by the noise of the argument from the street. Eyewitnesses say the shooter shouted anti-Romani, vulgar abuse at the Romani man before killing him.

voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Chomutov, Policie, murders, shootings



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