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Czech Police propose charging four people for neo-Nazi graffiti on businesses in the HateFree Zone

9.3.2017 8:52
In the Czech Republic during the late night hours of 23 April and the early morning hours of 24 April 2016, neo-Nazis attacked several businesses involved with the HateFree Zone network. (Collage:  Romea.cz)
In the Czech Republic during the late night hours of 23 April and the early morning hours of 24 April 2016, neo-Nazis attacked several businesses involved with the HateFree Zone network. (Collage: Romea.cz)

Police in Prague, Czech Republic have proposed charging four people with spray-painting neo-Nazi symbols on businesses and cafes involved in the Czech Government's HateFree Zone project. Prosecution of a fifth defendant has been temporarily suspended.

Tomáš Hulan, a spokesperson for the police, gave the information to the Czech News Agency on 28 February in response to their inquiry. The four alleged accomplices face charges of property damage and expressing sympathy for a movement to suppress human rights and freedoms.

"In this matter four persons have been charged with seven counts of property damage by graffiti. Two are also being prosecuted for attacking a facility on Konecchlumského Street in Prague 6, damaging its display window and an ATM machine," Hulan said.

If convicted, the perpetrators face up to three years in prison. The derogatory messages appeared on the facades of several businesses involved in the Government's HateFree campaign in the early morning hours of 24 April 2016.

The vandals targeted, for example, firms on Jiřího z Poděbrad Square and in Francouzská and Vinohradská Streets. The perpetrators spray-painted messages such as "Death to Hate Free" (Smrt Hate Free) on the businesses.

According to previous reporting, the perpetrators chose the locations exactly because of the attitudes expressed by the owners of the businesses through their promotion of the Hate Free slogo, i.e., attitudes of tolerance for minorities or refugee reception. The vandals also spray-painted the vestibule of the metro station at Karlovo náměstí.

Experts who investigated the symbols and texts that were graffitied came to the conclusion that the content of the messages was a display of sympathy for currently existing neo-Nazi movements that espouse the legacy of Nazi Germany and its Third Reich, according to police. The HateFree Culture campaign, run by the Czech Government Agency for Social Inclusion, began in November 2014.

The campaign focused primarily on youth and has been 80 % financed by Norway Grants. One of its activities was producing pink buttons and stickers that read "Hate Free Zone" to indicate places open to all irrespective of ethnicity or other affiliation.

That financing is scheduled to end this April. Representatives of the initiative are interested in continuing it.

News server Romea.cz reported last month that according to a press release, the team of Czech Human Rights Minister Jan Chvojka (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) "will ensure the sustainability of the project after April in accordance with the funding rules". News server Rozhlas.cz reported that Chvojka has denied wanting to target the Hate Free project for closure as had been previously reported.

ČTK, agw, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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HateFree Culture, Neo-Nazism, obžaloba, Policie



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