Czech Police refuse to publicize whether they are investigating death threats made on Facebook against Romani celebrity
The Police of the Czech Republic are refusing, despite repeated questions posed to them by news server Romea.cz, to say whether they are investigating any of the reports of the multiple death threats that have been made against the Romani singer Radek Banga. Romea.cz has been informed that several criminal reports have already been filed in the matter.
Death threats, including threats to "gas" Banga, were posted to his Facebook profile after he publicly criticized the success of the xenophobic Ortel band in the "Czech Nightingale" audience appreciation competition. The editorial offices of news server Romea.cz, which broke the story of Banga's protest, have also received arson threats through Facebook.
"The Police of the Czech Republic do not publicize information about who has filed criminal reports against whom. Furthermore, we do not share information about anybody we are possibly screening or about the state of the investigation," High Police Commissioner Ivana Nguyenová of the Police Presidium Press Department said.
The reason the police spokesperson is keeping this information secret is unclear. "For people who are endangered by hate violence it is important to know that the police are investigating a specific prejudicial attack. It is not the case that a general statement by the press spokesperson could endanger the course of an investigation - this is about an increased feeling of safety for all those who, just like Radek Banga, might become targets of bias violence," Klára Kalibová, the director of the In IUSTITIA organization and a lawyer, told news server Romea.cz.
A police spokesperson certainly had no hesitation about publicizing the fact that an investigation was recently opened into death threats made by a young Romani man against a chef at a pizzeria in Žatec where another Romani man died in October under circumstances that have yet to be explained. "Investigation of the circumstances of the death of the man and the other illegal behavior during the memorial assembly and on social networks is still ongoing. For that reason we will not publicize any more information about it," police spokesperson Jana Slámová said at the beginning of November.
News server ECHO24.cz reported the Police Presidium as saying that any investigation of the hate posts against Banga on social networks would fall within the Prague Police's jurisdiction, but according to a recent statement by the spokesperson for the Prague Police, Tomáš Hulan, they have not yet received any criminal reports in the case. Romea.cz has been informed, however, that Banga filed a criminal report in the matter several days ago.
The ROMEA organization also filed a criminal report about the arson threats against it that were made in relation to the scandal. Hulan told the ECHO24.cz news server that if citizens believe a social media post is criminal, they should not only report it, but that in fact they are obligated to by law.
Police are obliged to launch an investigation on their own, according to Section 158 of Act No. 141/1961 Coll., if a grounded suspicion that a crime has been committed exists - they do not have to wait for somebody else to report the crime. The civilian "obligation to report" that Hulan has referred to is only related to the most serious felonies, such as abuse of a dependent, murder, rape, torture, wartime treason, etc.
Ortel and the gas chambers
Fans of the xenophobic Ortel band have been responding to Banga's protest against the band's award by sending him death threats, threats worded in a racist way, and vulgar insults. The Facebook posts included comments directed toward him like "Die, you racist swine!!!", "We need to cleanse it here, you, Banga, are an example, you're in a foreign country so don't talk shit, if you don't like it here, go somewhere else", and insults such as "darky, Gypsy filth, Gypsy fucker."
"The gentleman with the odd mustache didn't finish the job during the Second World War. What a pity. It wouldn't be so black here now if he had; double the gas for that dick; Gypsy boy, you'll get a gun in your brown, cheeky face; Banga is a gyppo and he's afraid of the gas just like all the other vagabond motherfuckers," ECHO24.cz quoted some of the posts to Banga's Facebook profile as saying.
The controversial band Ortel is connected with the extremist scene and the ultra-right. In their lyrics, they frequently rave against minorities, and the establisher of the group, Tomáš Ortel, also founded the cult neo-Nazi band Conlifct 88 - the number 88 represents a neo-Nazi cryptogram for the greeting "Heil Hitler" ("H" is the eighth letter of the alphabet).
After the scandal over Banga's protest agasint Ortel hit the media, Czech Television broadcast footage of a concert given by Ortel in the town of Frýdek-Místek as part of its "168 Hours" program, in which several fans of the group give the Nazi salute and shout "Sieg heil". The footage was provided by documentary filmmaker Vít Klusák.
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