Czech real estate agency and town file charges over thousands of e-mails rumoring "influx" of Romani people
Yesterday the town of Karviná filed criminal charges against an unidentified perpetrator on suspicion of intentionally spreading a false alarm. Thousands of e-mails have been sent to Karviná residents in which an unidentified writer claims that Romani people from Šluknov district are being moved under police supervision into apartments owned by the RPG company in the towns of Havířov and Karviná. Šárka Swiderová, spokesperson for the Karviná town hall, informed the Czech Press Agency of the charges today.
"The text of all the e-mails is the same, there has been an avalanche of them spreading online for about two weeks. The messages are being sent to thousands of people living in Karviná as well as practically the entire town leadership," Swiderová said. The message says people are being bused into town accompanied by police vehicles and claims that the RPG apartments charge high rents which the town's social services department will be paying for the indigent tenants.
"We have run out of patience. Dozens of rumors have been spread here since last fall, but this one has a clearly consistent, targeted content. I am really sorry people are believing it. Unfortunately, this is playing to the racist moods of people here and that makes it doubly dangerous," said Mayor Tomáš Hanzel (ČSSD - Czech Social Democrats), adding that both RPG and the town have distanced themselves from the content of the messages. "No one, I must emphasize this, no one will allow inadaptable citizens to take up residence in our town. We have the migration of people under control, thanks not only to our field social workers, but also to the municipal police," Hanzel said.
Swiderová said the spreading of the news online has sparked panic among residents. The town held a meeting with citizens last week to explain the situation to them. The RPG Real Estate company, which owns approximately 12 000 apartments in the town, intends to defend itself against the rumors too. "We have taken the same approach as the town and we are also filing criminal charges on suspicion of the same crime," Petr Handl, spokesperson for RPG Real Estate, told the Czech Press Agency today.
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