Czech court reopens trial of promotion of neo-Nazism, now in its sixth year
Three of the eight people who face charges of supporting and promoting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms stood in a renewed trial today before the District Court for Prague 1. They claim they are innocent.
They are suspected of promoting a neo-Nazi movement, namely, the National Resistance group (Národní odpor - NO), and of organizing neo-Nazi events. They face between three and eight years in prison if convicted.
Previously all eight were acquitted, but that decision was overturned on appeal. Their indictment describes a total of four alleged crimes that concern, for example, posting promotional materials for the neo-Nazi NO group on 4 December 2008 in the center of Prague, or organizing and running and assembly and march on 6 June 2009 in Jihlava.
A municipal bureaucrat dispersed that event immediately once it began. It had been announced as a memorial march to honor the memories of the victims of WWII.
The actual purpose of the event, according to the court file, was to honor the memories of fallen Nazi Wehrmacht soldiers and members of the SS. Other alleged crimes described in the indictment concerned the creation and operation of a website called Resistance Women Unity (RWU), which according to police was the women's branch of the NO organization.
The final alleged crime concerned the holding of a concert of so-called "White Power" music that took place in February 2009 in Srby (Kladno district). The courts began to address the case in 2010 and several panels of judges have been responsible for it.
The District Court acquitted the suspects in October 2012. In that decision the court significantly criticized the work of the police, stating that when officers conducted the preliminary proceedings they allegedly had not found sufficient evidence to back the charges.
The court claimed it had no other option but to free the defendants. However, one year later, a higher court overturned that verdict on appeal.
The renewed trial yesterday began with the reading of the indictment and the testimonies of the three defendants present, all of whom declared their innocence in brief statements. The court then read similar testimonies from the five remaining defendants who had excused themselves from attending the hearing.
Those five defendants also submitted brief statements denying they had committed criminal activity. The trial will continue on 5 and 12 October, when witnesses and court experts will give testimony.
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