Czech court upholds conviction for making dangerous threats after neighbor threatens to kill three Romani women and their children with an ax
On Tuesday, 27 July 2021, the Municipal Court in Prague rejected appeals from both the defendant and the plaintiffs against a first-instance verdict that was handed down in the case of three Romani women who had been verbally assaulted with racist insults by a neighbor, an altercation that escalated when the neighbor decided to return to her own apartment for an ax, which she then brandished as she threatened to cut the Romani women and two of their children to pieces, threats that she fortunately did not carry out. The appeals court has now upheld the verdict of the District Court for Prague 5 finding the defendant guilty of making credibly dangerous threats and sentencing her to a five-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.
The injured parties had asked to be awarded damages during the criminal proceedings but were instructed to pursue them as a separate civil claim. Barbora Davidová, a lawyer for the In IUSTITIA organization, which helped the injured parties with the case, said that "The police first categorized it as a misdemeanor, so we then asked the immediate supervising prosecutor to review it, and after he approved of the police approach, we filed a motion for supervision with the next level of prosecutorial supervision, which then ordered that the case be investigated further.
"If we had not done that work, the perpetrator would never have been convicted of a crime, which is why we consider this a success," the lawyer said. The In IUSTITIA organization also expressed appreciation for the perpetrator having been convicted of making dangerous threats with a weapon, which decidedly cannot be tolerated, and for the verdict having taken effect.
"However, we have long warned that the courts, just in as they did in this case, frequently fail to take into consideration the bias that motivates the crime when categorizing it," the organization said in a press release. "Another problem we see is that even the appeals court did not decide to award compensation for non-pecuniary damages to our clients."
"This decision is not exceptional - the courts rather frequently tell injured parties to open a separate civil proceedings for damages, but in our opinion they are secondarily victimizing the injured parties by creating a situation whereby they have no choice but to sue the perpetrator of the crime, at their own cost, even in cases where it is possible for the criminal court to award damages to them," In IUSTITIA said. The organization was established with the aim of providing legal information, representation and social services to persons affected by hate crime and to prevent hate crime and intolerance, especially age-based violence, antisemitism, gender-based violence, homophobia and transphobia, Islamophobia, racism, and violence based on the victim's social status, state of health, or subculture affiliation.
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