Czech court hands down sentencing in pool brawl case, one Romani man acquitted for having attempted to stop the altercation
The District Court in Teplice, Czech Republic handed down sentences on 13 May 2021 against the defendants in the case of a 2018 altercation at a swimming pool that received national attention. Defendants Jiří Demeter and Roman Dunka will be sent to a maximum-security prison for one year for having been accomplices to intentional battery and rioting.
In 2018 they assaulted David Michajlak at a swimming pool in Dubí (Teplice district) after he attempted to intervene in a dispute between two women. He suffered moderately severe injuries as a result.
The verdict has yet to take effect and the defendants have already appealed. Other participants in the conflict, defendants Radek Čonka and Michal Dunka, were given suspended sentences of two years in prison.
Defendant Žaneta Dunková was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence for rioting and making dangerous threats. As for defendant Rostislav Drška, the court ruled that he committed no illegal behavior.
The group of six had originally been charged with attempted grievous bodily harm, for which they faced up to 10 years in prison. The incident transpired on 7 August 2018 and sparked an anti-Romani, racist reaction on social media.
A woman who became an injured party in this case had decided to scold a child at the swimming pool who, among other things, was holding one of his peers down underwater, according to the case file. A person using the name Petr Štefanec described the situation after the fact in a Facebook post as follows:
"One Romani child began to push a so-called white child underwater - I do not believe he meant to cause him harm. The mother of the white child jumped into the water, grabbed the Romani child who had been holding her child underwater, pushed him away, and lifted her own child out of the water."
Žaneta Dunková witnessed this and, although she is not the mother of the Romani child involved, began to stand up for him and to confront the white child's mother; as for the Romani child's actual mother, who was never charged in relation to the incident, she described the entire incident differently. "That lady grabbed my child by the shoulder, began shaking him and shouted 'I've had enough of you, you're pissing me off' and threw him into the children's pool as if he were a rag," the Romani child's mother told news server Romea.cz at the time.
The Romani child's mother ran over to help her child when she saw what had happened. The dispute between Dunková (who was eventually charged) and the "white" woman was then joined by another visitor to the swimming pool, David Michajlak, who did his best to separate the arguing women.
The other defendants in the case then decided to protect Dunková, to whom they are related, from Michajlak. He was hospitalized with moderately severe injuries after Dunková's relatives assaulted him.
Michajlak was later given a Medal for Heroism by Czech President Miloš Zeman, who called his intervention an attempt to save lives. Judge Stanislav Řehola announced when handing down the sentencing that there was no evidence of Dunková having joined the attack on Michajlak.
The judge also said he believes another person or persons were involved in the scuffle who have yet to be identified. When handing down sentencing the court took into account the fact that Dunková was the only defendant to express regret for her behavior and to have apologized to the injured party before the court.
"She has demonstrated self-reflection about her behavior," the judge said. The other defendants, with the exception of Drška, have confessed their physical contact with Michajlak.
"All of them have confessed to having shoved [Michajlak] at a minimum," the judge said. The Romani defendants had previously stated that both Michaljak and the "white" woman had abused them in racist terms as "black swine".
One of the Romani defendants was quoted by news server iDNES.cz as telling the "white" woman: "You drank 10 beers, I had seven. You drank more than I did there."
"Then you all started shouting that you would 'shoot the black fuckers,'" iDNES.cz quoted one of the Romani defendants as alleging. As for defendant Drška, he has been acquitted because there is no evidence of his having assaulted anybody.
There is evidence that Drška also did his best to prevent the altercation. The poolside brawl became the pretext for neo-Nazis to organize a demonstration in front of the Dubí Municipal Authority that deteriorated into rioting.
During that assembly, among other things, photographer Vít Hassan was assaulted; his attackers received suspended sentences for their crimes. A woman was also photographed giving the Nazi salute at that demonstration.
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