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Czech court hands down suspended sentences in Bedřiška arson

Ostrava, 10.12.2010 15:49, (ROMEA)

Today the Regional Court in Ostrava handed down suspended sentences to a mother and son who committed an arson attack on the home of a Roma family in Ostrava's Bedřiška settlement. The son has been given a three-year suspended sentence for attempted reckless endangerment. The court also sentenced his mother to an 18-month suspended sentence for not preventing her son from throwing the Molotov cocktail.

"This first-instance verdict in the case of an arson attack on a family in Ostrava's Bedřiška settlement is a clear signal to all arsonists in this country: You can throw grenades into people's homes as long as they don't explode. This is a return to the old days," Markus Pape, who has long followed arson attacks in the Czech Republic, told news server Romea.cz.

Pape says the judge in Ostrava did not sufficiently appreciate the efforts of the police and the state prosecutor to newly define the danger to society of arson attacks on children. "This verdict not only violates human rights, it violates children's rights to their lives and their security," Pape told Romea.cz.

The court has set a three-year probationary period for both defendants and has ordered the young man be placed in protective institutional care until he turns 18. The judge also made abstinence from alcohol a condition of the mother's probation. The verdict has not yet taken effect. The son waived his right to appeal while still in the courtroom, but his mother and state prosecutor Brigita Bilíková reserved the right to appeal.

According to the official version of the events, the perpetrators were motivated by a dispute with the targeted family, who were their neighbors. Police allegedly were unable to prove racial motivation during the investigation. No one was physically injured during the attack as the fire was put out in time. The prosecution charged the pair with multiple counts of attempted murder.

A total of 14 people were in the duplex at the time of the attack. One of them was Dušan Podraný, who does not agree with the verdict. "We could have been burned alive, it was clearly attempted murder," Podraný told news server iDNES.cz. "She yells at us that all blacks should go up in flames and then they let her go home? That won't do," Podraný told Czech Radio.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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