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October 26, 2021



Czech Police charge author of antigypsyist article about arson for that and other offenses

18.8.2020 6:45
The website
The website "Vlastenecké noviny" ("Patriotic News") in the Czech Republic published an antigypsyist article about an arson attack in August 2020 celebrating the deaths of 11 people because they were allegedly Romani.

The Czech Police have charged a 41-year-old man with extremism because of a racist article he authored about a tragic blaze in the town of Bohumín and other pieces published on the Vlastenecké noviny ("Patriotic News") server. They announced the charges on Twitter.

On 8 August, 11 people, several of them children, died during the fire in a prefabricated apartment building in Bohumín (Karvina district). The article reported that both the alleged perpetrator of the arson and the victims were Romani and used terms like "parasites" to describe the dead.

The article was published on the Vlastenecké noviny ("Patriotic News") server on the day after the fire. In fact, not all of the victims were Romani, and the perpetrator was also not Romani, but the news server used the term "cikáni" to write about the deceased.

Police subsequently confirmed that they were investigating the racist article. The charges, according to a statement from police yesterday, are not just about the piece on the arson attack, but about other offenses that the officiers have not yet detailed to the public.

"This man began committing criminal activity midway through last year," a police official by the last name of Řezníček said of the charges. According to him, the suspect has expressed his views about a variety of incidents.

"He proceeded in a very sophisticated way. He changed initials and names. He also took advantage of social media to disseminate his texts," the officer said, adding that it was exactly that evasive behavior that had complicated the investigation for detectives.

"There are dozens of instances of this man expressing himself in a derogatory way about events in the world or in the Czech Republic. For example, he has expressed approval when people have died. In his writings he has even made threats against state authorities, police officers, or members of the Government," Řezníček said.

Police have charged the suspect with four felonies: defamation, incitement, making threats intended to influence a public agency and making threats intended to influence a public official. During a search of the suspect's home, officers confiscated a large number of writings.

All of the material will be assessed to see, for example, whether those writings involve extremist content. According to news server Manipulátoř, racist and xenophobic articles have been repeatedly published on the news server where this particular piece was featured.

"While many other disinformation websites just republish content from the channels for official propaganda from Russia, such as Russia Today or Sputnik, Vlastenecké noviny constantly produces an enormous amount of its own original content. These are usually the most explicit manifestations of hatred, racism and xenophobia that it is possible to find on the Czech Internet," Manipulátoř says of the website in question.

The publisher of the news server is Česká expedice, a publishing house and distributor operated by a company called Centrální informační agenturou, z. s., headquartered in Ostrava. The main figure behind the website and the director of the agency is named Radek Velička.

Police did not say whether the person charged is Velička, although his age is the same as that of the suspect. The article published on Vlastenecké noviny was not the only racist response to the Bohumín tragedy on the Czech Internet.

Racist commentaries began to appear beneath mainstream news server articles reporting on the tragic events after some news servers erroneously reported the perpetrator was Romani. The vice-chair of the Pirate Party, Olga Richterová, and the ROMEA organization jointly filed crime reports over some of them.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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