Czech mayor: Romani people face lynching unless rape suspect taken into custody
News server Novinky.cz reports that Mayor Jaroslav Trégr has said that residents of Rumburk could attempt to lynch Romani people in the Šluknov district and cause other racial unrest there if a court in Děčín doesn't remand violent recidivist offender Martin K. (age 49) into custody. Trégr has called upon the court to reconsider its decision to prosecute Martin K. at large and has also called on the Czech Government and Czech Justice Ministry to intervene.
"The crime of Martin K. and the subsequent incomprehensible decision of JUDr. Miloš Řízek could spark another explosion of racism," the mayor said in his written protest, dated 8 October, of the decision not to remand the defendant into custody. Trégr sent his protest to Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blažek and Czech Government Human Rights Commissioner Monika Šimůnková. The Czech daily Právo reports that the mayors of Staré Křečany and Šluknov also support this protest.
"Many disturbing calls to establish militias and to liquidate both this individual man and other Romani people are being spread right now through social networks," Trégr warns. According to Petra Trypesová, a spokesperson for the Děčín Police, Mayor Trégr has not filed any criminal charges over the threats. "However, the police will start investigating because we learned about this from the media," she said.
Police say Martin K. is a recidivist who has been convicted 15 times previously. He is currently charged with raping a 39-year-old female resident of Rumburk at knifepoint on 18 September. Even though Martin K. has been previously convicted of rape, Judge Řízek said he would not remand him into custody because his most recent conviction occurred 23 years ago.
The mayor says Martin K. scares other Romani people in town as well. "We know this is a problematic, violent person and that the Romani community is afraid of him and concerned about what he might do," Trégr's protest letter reads.
"The motion was delivered to the ministry yesterday. The only thing that can be said is that the Justice Ministry is not authorized to comment on court decisions," Petra Hrubá, spokesperson for the Czech Justice Ministry, said last Thursday.
Monika Slabá, spokesperson for Commissioner Šimůnková, said she is waiting before commenting on the case. "We got the letter day before yesterday, and it is possible that the Commissioner has not yet read it. However, she is continually monitoring the situation in the Šluknov district and she definitely will respond," Slabá said.
Mayor Trégr is not giving up hope that the court might change its opinion. He has asked the president of the court, Květoslava Urbánková, to review the decision, but she said she could not do so. "It is not even theoretically possible that this decision might be changed," she told the daily Právo.
Rumburk was one of the towns in the Šluknov foothills where anti-Romani demonstrations were held last year. During those demonstrations, individuals shouted racist slogans without police intervening.
Riot police were on duty in the area until the end of 2011. Then-Police President Petr Lessy deployed the riot units to the area to assist local departments, but after the Ústí Region set up its own special forces unit, the state police officers left the area. The police presidium's original plan was for the regional unit to be staffed by 170 members, but in the end it numbers roughly 80 staffers. The regional officers are reportedly not being used for daily reinforcement of municipal police patrols throughout the region.
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