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Czech court postpones trial in Bedřiška arson until December

Ostrava, 12.11.2010 0:33, (ROMEA)

A court has postponed the trial today of those accused of an arson attack on the home of a Roma family in the Bedřiška settlement of Ostrava because an expert witness was not able to attend. "The main hearing will continue on 3 December," Regional Court spokesperson Barbara Plchotová announced. A non-Roma mother and son who were neighbors of the victimized family are defendants in the case.

The trial began Monday. Since one of the defendants was not yet 18 years old at the time of the attack, it is not being held in open court. The Czech Press Agency reports that the defendants have refused to testify, but the court has already heard the testimony of members of the victimized family and other neighbors. Some witnesses confirmed that suspicious persons who looked like skinheads sometimes visited the defendants' home. Dušan Podraný, whose home was the target of the Molotov cocktail attack, said "Young bald guys visited there. I don't know whether they were skinheads or not, but my neighbor's son did visit those groups."

During the preliminary proceedings the defendants confessed to the Molotov cocktail attack. However, neither of them has specified who exactly threw the bottle into the Roma home. The prosecution claims that prior to the bottle being thrown, the defendants said "They will go up in flames today", evidence which apparently refutes the possibility that the defendants might have wanted to just scare the family.

The crime was committed in the early morning hours of Sunday 14 March 2010. There was a party at the defendants' home and alcohol was consumed. Police officers arrived on the scene and did their best to calm the loud and raucous gathering. After the officers left, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at around 3 AM through the window in the Roma home where a 13-year-old girl was sleeping. The bottle did not shatter and the ether it contained did not catch fire, but part of the carpet caught fire from the wick. The girl, who was awoken by the breaking glass, managed to put out the fire.

The prosecution is charging the mother and son with multiple counts of attempted murder. Officially, their motivation is said to have been a dispute with their neighbors. Police reportedly did not manage to prove racial motivation during their investigation. According to Ladislav Baláž, the attorney-in-fact for the victims, the court may yet change its view of that aspect. Baláž believes there is evidence of the younger attacker being connected to extremists. "It depends on whether the judge considers this to have been caused by the neighbors' relationship or racial motivation," he says, adding that revenge was probably the motive in any event.

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