Czech lower house speaker condemns MP’s visit to neo-Nazi convicted of racially-motivated murder
Czech MP Jan Hamáček (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD), the speaker of the lower house, has commented on the recent visit paid by Czech MP Tomio Okamura to Vlastimil Pechanec, who is serving time for the racially-motivated murder of a Romani man, calling the visit “extremely inappropriate and unfortunate.” Hamáček posted the comment through Facebook as follows: “In my opinion this casts a negative light not only on Mr Okamura and his party, but on the entire Chamber of Deputies.”
Okamura, the chair of the Dawn of Direct Democracy (Úsvit přímé demokracie) movement, was accompanied by Úsvit’s vice-chair Jaroslav Novák when he visited the prison in Pardubice on Friday 25 January where Pechanec is serving a sentence for the racially-motivated murder of Otto Absolon. The Úsvit representatives want a retrial for Pechanec, as they believe his initial trial was manipulated; the petition for a retrial is to be drafted by attorney Klára Samková, who is also the leading candidate for Úsvit in the upcoming elections to the EP.
Czech Senator Jiří Dienstbier has also criticized Okamura’s move, calling it a political tactic to win over right-wing extremists. Dienstbier has been tapped to serve as human rights minister in the incoming cabinet.
Pechanec was convicted of having stabbed Absolon twice in the abdomen in July 2001 and was sent to prison for 17 years in 2003. Prior to this incident he had a record of committing both felony and misdemeanor violence against randomly-selected members of the Romani community.
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