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Czech police charge two men with attacking singer

České Budějovice, 2.12.2011 21:07, (ROMEA)

Police charged two men today with committing Saturday's attack on American singer Tonya Graves in Vimperk, Czech Republic. The men from Strakonice, aged 24 and 35, have been charged with rioting and defaming an ethnic group, nation, race or members of such groups.

Radomír Heřman, director of the South Bohemian Police, informed the press of the charges today. He said both men face prison terms of up to three years if found guilty. Graves was attacked Saturday evening at a restaurant. Prior to the incident, a rally by promoters of the extremist Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) had been held in the town.

"Police arrested both men today in the early morning hours," Heřman told the Czech Press Agency, adding that the suspects both have criminal records, including for having promoted Nazism in the past. Police officers are now deciding whether to request that both be remanded into custody.

Graves, a 41-year-old, dark-skinned singer who performs with the band Monkey Business, was previously quoted in the press has having said that obvious DSSS promoters had physically and verbally assaulted her in the U Stadionu restaurant. They are alleged to have begun cursing her, pulling her hair and spitting at her. The singer was also quoted as saying that two off-duty police officers were in the restaurant but did not help her. She was reportedly helped by several other customers and a waiter. Heřman, however, says the officers did not commit any errors and that there had been an imprecise interpretation of what occurred. "Those officers were off-duty, having dinner in the next room. Once they realized an incident was underway, they ran into the next room, but it was over," he said.

Last Saturday roughly 300 people attended the DSSS rally on the square in Vimperk. The speakers, led by party chair Tomáš Vandas, brought up alleged problems with "indaptable" citizens and the town's allegedly deteriorating security situation. A spokesperson for the South Bohemian Police previously reported that police had not had to respond to any significant conflicts in connection with the gathering.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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