Czech court handles case of bar attack in Děčín, defendants claim racism
On 9 December testimony was given by the final defendant, Zdeněk Jano, before the Děčín District Court in the main hearing of the case of an attack committed in July by three Romani youths against two non-Romani men and a woman. Peter Horvát and David Czigány face up to two years in prison if convicted of rioting and failing to provide first aid.
Jano is charged with grievous bodily harm and faces up to 10 years in prison. The attack sparked anti-Romani sentiment in the town.
The attack itself, according to the prosecutor, did not have a racist subtext. The hearing has been closed to the public.
The incident took place on 30 July of this year at around 3AM in front of the Calypso bar in Děčín. According to the prosecutor, Jano brutally attacked one of the non-Romani men, stomping him repeatedly in the face.
The victim suffered multiple facial bone fractures and soft tissue injury. "I spent 12 days in the hospital and three months at home," he later told the Czech News Agency.
The aftereffects of the attack are permanent and the man has undergone facial operations. According to the indictment, another non-Romani man was also struck by the other Romani assailants and the non-Romani woman was punched as well.
The three defendants then left the scene, according to the indictment. Czigány said the brawl was preceded by a verbal skirmish inside the bar.
"They said racist stuff to us, they cursed us as black," Czigány told the Czech News Agency. He no longer recalls how the brawl itself took place.
However, Czigány did say he believed alcohol played the main role in the incident. "It was really fast, it lasted just a moment. We were afraid they would attack us. We were drunk, both us and them. I have always avoided brawls and conflicts. If I had been sober it wouldn't have happened," he said.
Czigány also rejects the claim that he fled after the attack. "My cousin drove up in his car. I didn't even notice that someone was lying there who needed help. We didn't flee, we just drove away," he said.
The victims reject his version of the events. In their view the attack was groundless.
"There were no racist insults. I walked out of the bar and I don't remember anything after that. Later I learned that they kicked me in the head for a minute and a half," said the man who was most severely injured.
Jano, who faces the toughest sentencing, has a reputation in Děčín as a brawler and has also attacked Romani people. One Romani man whom he assaulted filed a criminal report against him, but police responded sluggishly to it, which he says is their habit in cases of problems inside the Romani community.
"It happened as I said it would," Roman Horváth, a long-term Romani resident who lives with his family in the Old Town of Děčín, told news server Romea.cz earlier. "If the police had arrested him back in July when he attacked me, this massacre might never have happened."
Less than two weeks after the attack in front of the Calypso bar an anti-Romani demonstration was held there by convicted con artist Lukáš Kohout. Approximately 200 people attended the demonstration.
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