Czech High Court refuses usual compensation to family of murdered Romani man
On 28 May the High Court in Prague rejected an appeal regarding the amount of damages to be paid to the surviving relatives of a Romani man from Teplice who was stabbed to death. Stanislav Sýkora, who injured two other Romani men with a knife during the same incident, has been sentenced to five years in prison for involvement in a felony affray.
The Regional Court has awarded the brother of the deceased less than half of the amount normally awarded to the surviving relatives of deceased crime victims. The court awarded nothing to the other two victims.
The High Court has now upheld the original verdict. Klára Kalibová, the attorney for the victim's family, also expressed disagreement with the charges the Regional Court ultimately ruled on.
"In my opinion, this incident was not an affray. The more appropriate charge would have been murder or grievous bodily harm resulting in death," she said.
Kalibová was primarily in court to ask that the damages be increased. "This was a hate crime. The appeals court should overturn the Regional Court's compensation award and increase it to the full amount," she told the court.
The Supreme State Prosecutor also disagrees with the lower court's decision to award reduced damages. "The aggrieved party properly joined the case in time to file a claim for moral damages. It is not possible to agree with this adjustment to the usual award of CZK 175 000, as there was no reason to reduce the award," the Supreme State Prosecutor said. "As far as the other victims, I consider it correct that the lower court has referred them to the civil courts in order to pursue their claims."
The High Court ultimately rejected the appeal; the judge justified the reduction to the damages by claiming the deceased had participated in the affray. "No one forced the deceased to participate in the affray and the use of the award adjustment procedure is appropriate," said the judge.
The court did not take into consideration the fact that the victims testified they had been involved in necessary self-defense against a man who attacked them with a knife. The deceased victim's brother has therefore been awarded only CZK 85 000.
The family is now considering filing a constitutional complaint, as there is no other way to appeal. "I will discuss that option with the clients," Klára Kalibová told news server Romea.cz.
The fatal tragedy occurred on 24 May 2013 during the celebration of the start of the spa season in Teplice. Sýkora attacked a group of six men with a knife.
The incident was sparked by a fabricated story about the theft of a sausage told to Sýkora by a friend. During the course of the main trial at the Regional Court it was proven that no such theft ever occurred and the judge made a point of stating that in his verdict.
Sýkora reportedly sparked the affray, during which he twice stabbed the 49-year-old Romani man who later died, by shouting racist abuse at the group. The victim died on his way to the hospital.
Sýkora also assaulted another two men, stabbing one in the chest and the other in the arm and ear. According to the original indictment, Sýkora would have faced up to 16 years in prison for racially motivated grievous bodily harm resulting in death.
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