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Czech Police reviewing footage from Nový Bydžov demonstration, more charges may be filed

Nový Bydžov, 15.3.2011 15:03, (ROMEA)

Ivana Ježková, spokesperson for the Czech Police in Hradec Králové, told the Czech Press Agency today that police officers are reviewing video footage taken during Saturday in Nový Bydžov, where a rally of the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) took place, as did a counter-demonstration. Police are not ruling out that the number of people charged as a result of Saturday's events might rise. So far police have charged 13 right-wing extremists with rioting after arresting them in connection with an assault on a Roma man. One DSSS supporter was also arrested for promoting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms.

Officers documented the situation in Nový Bydžov using a monitoring van with video cameras. A police helicopter also recorded footage. "The materials will be used for an analysis of whether any other crimes or misdemeanors were committed," Ježková said. The footage might then serve as evidence.

Police are still investigating an attack on a Roma man who was allegedly waylaid by 13 right-wing extremists once the rally was over. The victim was rendered unconscious. Emergency rescue workers hospitalized him with bruises and head injuries. After receiving treatment and regaining consciousness, the man asked to leave the hospital. Police want to interrogate other witnesses and verify whether the attack by the extremist group had a racial subtext. The other extremist charged was wearing a scarf with the logo of the banned Workers' Party (Dělnická strana -DS). All 14 extremists charged so far face up to three years in prison if found guilty.

The Romea civic association is not satisfied with the actions of the police and town hall. The association is demanding that the police Inspectorate investigate the proportionality of the police intervention and that police thoroughly investigate the neo-Nazi attack on three Roma men after the rally, which the association believes was racially motivated. The association also wants an investigation of what it alleges was the failure of the police and the local government to take action "when the law was violated during the gathering of the DSSS and neo-Nazi organizations in Nový Bydžov."

Police also detained seven counter-demonstrators. They face administrative proceedings and fines of up to several thousands of crowns for failing to obey police orders to disperse.

Nový Bydžov was visited by as many as 500 right-wing extremists and roughly 200 counter-demonstrators who attempted to prevent the previously announced DSSS march. Policie pushed the counter-demonstrators out of the way of the march using horses, firecrackers and night sticks. One person suffered contusions to his foot during the intervention.

The situation in the town of 7 000 came to a head last November after several muggings and the rape of a young woman. A petition demanding the provision of security was signed by 3 257 people. The mayor then issued a declaration sharply criticizing Roma people and announced a series of measures against problematic residents, such as permitting a private security agency to operate in the town and increasing the number of officers on patrol from four to six.

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