Czech court gives suspended sentence to adults who assaulted young Romani children physically and verbally in a park last year
Petra and Stanislav Pumprla, the married couple from Přerov, Czech Republic who brutally assaulted a group of Romani children last year in the park of a chateau in Lipník nad Bečvou, were sentenced on Monday by a court in Přerov to suspended prison sentences of 12 and 14 months, respectively, for having physically and verbally attacked seven children, some of whom had to be treated in hospital as a consequence. The court ruled that the couple committed felony rioting, battery, and defamation of an ethnic, national, racial or other group.
The couple originally faced as long as five years in prison. The husband and wife say they are blameless and are considering whether to appeal.
The man was given a 14-month sentence with a probationary suspension of three years, while the woman received a milder, 12-month sentence suspended for two years. "We have here the testimony of seven children who gave their testimonies promptly; the testimonies corroborate each other and also take account of various secondary details," Judge Jan Rektor said.
"None of these children are problematic, I myself have never encountered any of them before now as part of my agenda," the judge said during the sentencing. He also said that it would be erroneous to assume that seven children would be able to give testimonies that corroborate each other without having actually experienced what they were describing.
The judge also referenced the testimonies of witnesses who saw the violent attack on the children. The court convicted the couple of defamation but said racial hatred was not their original motivation.
The incident happened last year in April. According to the verdict, the couple first insulted the group of children with racist abuse and then punched and slapped their faces.
In some instances the assailants were said to have punched the children so hard they fell to the ground, at which point they kicked them. According to the original medical reports, the children suffered sprains to their cervical spines, surface injuries, mild concussions and contusions.
Attorneys for the victims spoke in court of a brutal attack during which the duo kicked the children, who were defenseless, four of whom had to seek medical treatment afterward while others needed the help of a psychologist. "For the children who were assaulted, today's decision by the court is at least partial satisfaction in the context of what they have had to experience, some of them have had to receive treatment for painful injuries and to this day they have to cope with their memories of the attack," the In IUSTITIA organization, which represented the victims, posted to social media.
The prosecutor said the defendants' guilt has been proven. "The motive for their behavior was revenge of some kind," she said.
"That behavior, however, was absolutely excessive," the prosecution argued. The court agreeed with the sentencing proposed by the prosecution.
The couple must pay CZK 56 000 [EUR 2 130] to the injured parties to cover their costs, but for other compensation they will have to sue in civil court. The defense, on the other hand, sought acquittal and alleges the accusations were fabricated.
"If the incriminating proof is meant to be the injured parties' testimonies, I call them unreliable and mendacious," the defense attorney said. He alleged the couple had been assaulted by the group and that their daughter had previously been attacked by them.
The defense also objected to a characterization of the couple's behavior as motivated by racism, describing them as a family who had adopted a son with Romani roots. However, Stanislav Pumprla did admit to the court that he shoved one of the children and slapped another during the conflict.
According to the male defendant, nothing more than that occurred. Police officers originally investigated the case as a misdemeanor against civic coexistence but recategorized it as felony attempted battery and rioting.
Eventually the police began to investigate the couple for racial motivation as well. The incident sparked tensions in the town and police collaborated with the local authority, a specialist in Romani issues and crime prevention assistants to calm the situation.
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