Czech court gives suspended sentence to attacker who threatened to kill Romani women and their children with an ax
The District Court for Prague 5 handed down a verdict on 21 April in the case of a woman who attacked her female Romani neighbors with racist insults, retrieved an ax from her apartment, and used it to threaten the women and their two children, telling them she would chop them to bits. Fortunately the woman did not make good on her threats.
The first-instance verdict has yet to take effect. The In IUSTITIA NGO has reported that the perpetrator has been convicted of making dangerous threats with a weapon and sentenced to five months in prison, suspended for 18 months.
Initially police assessed the death threats made by the woman holding the ax as a misdemeanor, but after In IUSTITIA filed several complaints, the case was reviewed by the Prague prosecutor, who instructed the police to investigate the matter as a felony. Lawyer Barbora Davidová from the In IUSTITIA organization, who represented one of the Romani women, has mixed feelings about the court's decision.
"Naturally, we do welcome the fact that the perpetrator has ultimately been convicted when the matter had initially been addressed just through a misdemeanor proceedings and we had to use almost all of the available criminal law remedies for it to be dealt with as a felony instead. Despite that, we still have reservations about the verdict from the District Court for Prague 5," she told news server Romea.cz.
"Both the charges and the sole presiding judge have stated that the perpetrator's guilt has been proven by the eyewitness testimony of our clients, the injured parties, so their testimony is considered credible, but for some incomprehensible reason the court did not take the racial motivation for the crime into account, despite the fact that the eyewitness testimonies corroborate the fact that they were insulted by the perpetrator in a racist way. From our perspective, the court decidedly made an error when it assumed the perpetrator assaulted the injured parties just because of longstanding disputes, despite the fact that the racial motivation for the crime was apparent from the evidence submitted," Davidová said.
"What's more, the court has decided not to award the injured parties compensation for the non-pecuniary damage they have suffered and referred them to a civil proceedings for such claims even though, from our perspective, the evidence unequivocally proves the conditions for a claim to compensation for non-pecuniary damage during the criminal proceedings were met," she said. The In IUSTITIA organization was established to provide social services, legal information and representation in court to people who have been victimized by hateful violence and to prevent hate crimes and displays of intolerance, especially racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, gender-based violence, and violence motivated by a victim's age, state of health, social status or belonging to a subculture.
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