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Czech appeals court upholds sentences against married non-Romani couple who assaulted Romani children, compensation for mental anguish still has to be sued for separately

20.10.2021 8:43
--ilustrační foto--
--ilustrační foto--

The Olomouc Regional Court has confirmed the suspended sentences handed down against the married couple of Petra Pumprlová and Stanislav Pumprla, who assaulted a group of Romani children in the chateau park in the town of Lipník nad Bečvou (Přerov district) - according to the appeals court, the children's testimonies are believable and the appeal of the defendants has been rejected. The appeals venue also ruled that the legal categorization of the crimes is appropriate; the much-followed scandal from 2019 involved convictions of the duo for battery, rioting, and defamation of an ethnic, national, racial or other group. 

According to the indictment, the couple physically and verbally attacked seven children, several of whom had to subsequently receive treatment in a hospital. "The court finds the testimonies of the injured parties believable," said Judge Markéta Langerová. 

"Their testimonies are directly supported by independent eywitnesses and indirectly supported by the conclusions drawn by the expert witness who expressed his opinion of their injuries," Langerová said. The sentencing, according to the appeals court judge, is appropriate and at the lower end of what is lawful, so it is impossible, in her view, to call the punishment disproportionately harsh. 

Pumprla has been sentenced with full effect to 14 months in prison, conditionally suspended for three years, while Pumprlová has received a milder sentence of 12 months in prison, suspended for two years. Both defendants have denied their guilt and allege that what they were doing in the park was addressing the Romani minors' alleged verbal assault of their daughter. 

Attorneys for the injured parties had also appealed the first-instance verdict and asked that compensation be paid for the non-pecuniary damage the children suffered. The appeals court rejected that motion, upholding the first-instance court's award of compensation for physical pain in the amount of CZK 35 000 [EUR 1 370] to four of the injured parties and referring them to a civil proceedings for their other claims. 

The appeals court also did not agree with the proposed basic rate of CZK 3 000 [EUR 120] as compensation for non-pecuniary damages for each injured party, as the first-instance court in Přerov had previously decided was adequate. "In our opinion, it was possible to award compensation just for physical pain and we have not awarded claims for compensation for mental and other suffering, as that claim was not sufficiently demonstrated," said presiding Judge Michal Jelínek. 

One of the attorneys for the injured parties called that aspect of the verdict scandalous. "At that point we consider the decision to be obviously incorrect, as it places another burden on these children in the form of undergoing a civil proceedings now that the criminal proceedings has taken more than 900 days," commented the In IUSTITIA organization, which represents the injured parties. 

"That decision is unjust toward the assaulted children, as anybody, including the court, can imagine how a physical attack accompanied by vulgar abuse of their ethnicity must have impacted them. The decision by the Regional Court has taken effect," In IUSTITIA said. 

According to the verdict, the couple first insulted the group of children in racist terms, then punched and slapped their faces, knocking some of them to the ground and kicking them. The original medical reports found that the children had suffered bruises, cervical spine sprain, mild concussion and superficial injuries.

The defendants deny perpetrating the attack and have called the children's testimony unreliable. "The only evidence against my client is the indictment in its written form, I never found any other evidence," Pumprlová's attorney said. 

By contrast, attorneys for the injured parties have emphasized that the children gave the same testimony consistently during the investigation and corroborated each other's accounts. Police originally investigated the case as a misdemeanor against civil coexistence, but later recategorized it as felony attempted battery and rioting.

Eventually the duo were prosecuted for the racial motivation behind their behavior as well. The incident sparked tensions locally, and police collaborated with the town hall, a Romani issues specialist and crime prevention assistants to calm the situation. 

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Attack on Roma children, Hate violence, In IUSTITIA, odškodnění



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