Czech Police apprehend suspects in 2011 arson attempt on Romani family
Police officers have apprehended two men suspected of having attacked a railway house occupied by Romani people with a Molotov cocktail three years ago in the Czech town of Krty (Rakovnice district). One person was lightly injured as a result.
The two men from the Rakovnice area, aged 22 and 28, face up to 12 years in prison if convicted, said Štěpánka Zatloukalová, spokesperson for the Central Bohemian Police. The attempt to set the Romani family on fire occurred on 10 August 2011 at around 1 AM.
The Molotov cocktail landed in the bedroom just a few centimeters away from a child's cot. A young couple and their one-year-old little girl were sleeping in the room.
When the attack was committed a total of 12 people were in the house, five of them children. The mother of the one-year-old and the other women in the house heard someone using a lighter in front of the house.
"He tried about three times to get it to light. Then grandma saw the Molotov cocktail fly through our window. The fire immediately spread through the entire living room, the painted furniture caught fire right away. My husband grabbed our little Kristýna and we ran outside. It was pure luck that she wasn't sleeping in her cot, but in the bed next to it. It would have landed right on her head," the shocked mother told news server Romea.cz after the attack.
"I jumped up, grabbed the child and my wife and we ran out of the house just as we were. I did my best to make sure they were completely safe. When I went back inside, there was smoke everywhere. I tried to put out the fire myself," said the father, who suffered second-degree burns on the instep and toes of his right foot when attempting to put out the fire.
Police shelved their investigation of the case in January 2012, concluding that they had not managed to find the perpetrators. "However, that doesn't mean detectives were no longer interested in the case or that they weren't discovering more information about it," said Zatloukalová.
The police spokesperson was not precise about what new facts led them to the suspects. She said the Central Bohemian detectives collaborated with colleagues in Prague on the case.
The arrested men have been charged with an especially serious crime, complicity in multiple counts of racially motivated attempted grievous bodily harm. If convicted, they face between five and 12 years in prison.
The suspects have been released on their own recognizance. "Police officers have searched their homes and the case is being supervised by the Regional State Prosecutor in Prague," Zatloukalová said.
A similar arson attack took place in 2011 in the Central Bohemian town of Býchory (Kolín district). A flaming torch was thrown inside a building where Romani people were living.
No one was injured; four people were prosecuted for the attack. The court sentenced one of the youths involved to four years in prison and gave the other three defendants suspended sentences.
The most infamous racially motivated attack against Romani people in the Czech Republic in recent years remains the case from April 2009 when four right-wing racist aggressors threw three Molotov cocktails into a small house in the town of Vítkov (Opava district). Three people suffered injuries; Natálie, who was not yet two years old at the time, was the most seriously harmed.
The child suffered burns over 80 % of her body and survived thanks to luck and top-quality medical care, but her health has been permanently damaged. The courts sentenced the right-wing extremist perpetrators to between 20 and 22 years in prison.
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