Czech prosecutor seeks just four years in prison for fanatic who caused train crashes
The Czech prosecutor is seeking four years in prison for senior citizen Jaromír Balda, who felled trees across railway lines on two separate occasions, causing two train accidents. Today the prosecution proposed that the Central Bohemian Regional Court hand down a sentence that is less than the legally allowed minimum for that of a terrorist attack because of the man's allegedly reduced sanity.
The defense, on the other hand, is asking that his client be given a suspended sentence on charges of reckless endangerment. The court has remanded Balda into custody and will announce its verdict on Monday.
"The defendant wanted responsibility for these attacks to be attributed to Muslim immigrants," prosecutor Martin Bílý said in his closing arguments. He reminded the court that the 71-year-old Balda had also disseminated threatening fliers intended to create the impression that they had been written by jihadis.
According to the prosecution, the defendant intended to spark fear of Muslims among the general population. He caused the first train accident at the beginning of June 2017 on the line between Bakov nad Jizerou and Mladá Boleslav, then caused the second accident less than two months later, this time between the stations of Bělá pod Bezdězem and Bezděz.
In addition to train personnel there were nine passengers on the first train and six on the second. Nobody was harmed, but engineers and experts said it was just a question of random good luck that the trains did not derail.
According to the sentencing guidelines, Balda faces between five and 15 years in prison for committing a terrorist attack and for threatening the crime of terrorism. A sentence that would be less than four years, including a suspended sentence, cannot be considered, in the prosecutor's view, because the man's actions were quite dangerous to society.
The prosecutor is also seeking outpatient psychiatric treatment for Balda and the confiscation of the items used to commit the crimes, his computer and his saw. The senior citizen's attorney, Aleš Tolnay, argued that his client could not have scared anybody by disseminating his fliers because "in and of themselves they were rather ridiculous."
That behavior, according to the defense, should be considered a misdemeanor. As for his felling the trees across the rail lines, the defendant's lawyer said the terrorist element of that behavior was not intended seriously, so the act performed was rather one of reckless endangerment than a terrorist attack.
Balda has admitted committing these actions but alleges he never wanted to harm anybody. He repeatedly emphasized that at the time he committed these deeds he was on blood pressure medication that had the side effect of inducing nightmares about refugees.
"Under no circumstances did I want to commit terror. I wanted to awaken the greatest possible resistance to it," the defendant repeated today to the judges.
According to experts from the fields of psychiatry and psychology, Balda does not suffer from any mental ailments such as psychosis, but given his age and his health difficulties, he has an organic personality disorder that has influenced his behavior by, among other things, lowering his intellect and worsening his capacity for judgment. At the time of the crime, the defendant was said to have only half of his cognitive capabilities, while his ability to control himself was essentially reduced.
Balda was described to the court as argumentative, paranoid and suspicious. Despite all this, experts believe he was capable of realizing the consequences of his actions.
- Czech Police charge senior citizen, a fanatical supporter of xenophobic politician, with terrorism
- Czech terrorist allegedly a fanatical supporter of ultra-right party who has attacked Romani people in the past
- Czech MP spreads disinformation about terrorist threat, Interior Minister sharply objects
- Chair of Prague DSSS celebrates ultra-right terrorist murdering woman in USA
- Partner of murdered Romani man condemns Czech media for calling him a "terrorist"
- Czech Center against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats will refute disinformation online
- Czech restaurant chain apologizes to Romani musician for refusal of service
- Czech town sees street fight, mayor writes about the "gypsy nuisance" - then ignores other violence involving non-Romani people
- Czech candidate shocked when online haters targeted her two-year-old
- Czech Police charge adults who assaulted Romani children with three felonies including racial defamation
- Czech restaurant says reservations, not racism, were why a Romani group was not seated despite empty tables
- Winner of Czech-Slovak singing competition "The Voice" subjected to racist attacks online
- Czech court acquits football hooligans accused of assaulting dark-skinned man on Prague tram, prosecutor appeals
- Hungary: Radicals protest "Romani crime", Romani people and their allies stand up to them
- Czech descendants of WWII resistance fighters demand senator resign over speech at Holocaust memorial
- Hungary: New Fascist party establishes paramilitary group
- Czech Senator compares environmental, gender equality, multiculturalism advocacy to racism and totalitarianism at Holocaust site
- Italy: Almost 1 000 Roma and Sinti march in Milan on Romani Resistance Day