Czech Police charge right-wing extremists who assaulted citizens of India
The Czech Police have charged three men from the group of right-wing extremists who assaulted a group of Indian citizens in the town of Písek at the end of July. If convicted they face between one and five years in prison.
Czech daily Mladá fronta DNES reported at the end of August that those accused are fans of the xenophobic Ortel band. The men aged 19, 20 and 23 belong to a local right-wing extremist group that assembled in the town both on the day of the attack and several weeks later to attend a concert by Ortel in a former local brewery.
The concert was held on Saturday, 18 August 2018, and the symbolism of the numbers "1" and "8" to neo-Nazis is that they stand for the letters "A" and "H" of the alphabet, Adolf Hitler's initials. A similar incident happened after an Ortel concert in the year 2011 in Býchory (Kolín district) during which four such youths threw a blazing torch into a Romani family's home.
Písek is also known for an incident 25 years ago in which a group of neo-Nazis forced a Romani man named Tibor Danihel into a river, where he tragically drowned. Extremist meetings in the town are not unusual events.
"If the organizers had wanted to hold that concert on city property and had asked to rent a venue we own, then we might have been able to assess the event as a potentially risky one, but in this case it was held in a privately-owned building and the city has no way to influence the organization of private concerts - moreover, Ortel has played in Písek before without any incidents," Vice-Mayor Josef Knot told Mladá fronta DNES. Tomáš Ortel, the lead singer of the band, told the paper that he distances himself from right-wing extremism and from anybody who commits assaults against others.
"We cannot throw people out according to their opinions or prevent such people from coming to a concert. There were 1 200 people in the audience and it is not possible to influence who attends. It is true that at one time many extremists attended our concerts, unfortunately it takes time for people to comprehend that what the band is playing and singing about is not racism," Ortel told Mladá fronta DNES.
Ortel got married at Zbiroh chateau this year on the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth, a place where the SS high command was headquartered during the Second World War, which he has explained by alleging that date was the only one available. According to Miroslav Mareš of Masaryk University in Brno, an expert on right-wing extremism, both adherents of neo-Nazism and ordinary people who are dissatisfied attend Ortel's concerts.
"In addition to those who are adherents of the old neo-Nazi hard core, other people attend who especially like their songs because they are dissatisfied with the current Government. Ortel is trying to avoid being labeled a right-wing extremist band, but they attract people from that part of the spectrum nonetheless," the expert said.
The Czech Police have charged the youths who committed the July attack in Písek with felony rioting, violence against a group and its individual members, and battery. "The longest length of sentencing is for battery, which would be between one and five years in prison," said police spokesperson Kamila Čuřínová Ingrišová.
The extremists first harassed the foreign nationals, who did their best to escape but were caught by the aggressors. Three of the victims suffered just minor injuries, but a fourth was hospitalized.
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