Czech court sentences brawlers who sparked anti-Romani demos to probation
Yesterday a District Court handed down its verdict in the case of a brawl that launched unrest at the Máj housing estate in the town of České Budějovice in the summer of 2013. A group of six defendants was given suspended sentences ranging from one to two and a half years for bodily harm and rioting.
According to news server iDNES.cz., another two defendants were not convicted of any felony charges and their behavior will be handed by the town hall as a misdemeanor. A sentence of 18 months, conditionally suspended for two and a half years, was handed down against the 20-year-old partner of the pregnant young woman who was involved in the beginning of the conflict.
Rumors spread through the housing estate that the pregnant woman had been brutally assaulted by Romani people. The court found that attacks committed against police officers during the subsequent demonstrations were committed by her partner.
Most of the defendants have accepted their sentences. Only the two women who were involved at the start of the initial brawl have appealed.
Each claims she was merely defending herself against the other woman's attack. Appeals in the case will be handled by the Regional Court.
The whole brawl was started by an apparently banal event. At the end of June 2013, two boys aged three and a half and five years pushed each other in the sandbox.
Next, the two women exchanged verbal and physical abuse over the incident. Their partners and relatives then joined the conflict.
According to Judge Irena Tichá, it was difficult to determine who exactly had sparked the brawl and who had been more harmed by it as a result. "Both of the women have short fuses, which they also demonstrated to us here. The other people let themselves be provoked. The consequences, however, were ultimately much worse than the initial incident," Judge Tichá told iDNES.cz.
Police ultimately charged 47 people in connection with the subsequent unrest at the housing estate. Some of them have already received suspended sentences.
The unrest at the town's largest housing estate occurred from June through August of last year, when several anti-Romani demonstrations and marches took place there. Most of the people arrested were charged with attacking a public official.
During the unrest, police detained 224 people. According to detectives, there were 11 protest actions at the housing estate during the summer of 2013.
Most of those events targeted the Romani community living at Máj. Nine police officers were injured during the demonstrations and protest marches.
Today the town leaderships says such protest demonstrations and marches are a thing of the past. Many measures have helped calm the situation.
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