Czech Republic: Defense and prosecution appeal Strýčkovice verdict
Ladislav Matuš and his nephew David Matuš of Strýčkovice (Domažlice district) were given prison sentences on 25 April for assaulting their neighbor, Jiří Sýkora. David Matuš was sentenced to 10 months behind bars and Ladislav Matuš to two years.
Both men claim they are innocent and insist the conflict occurred differently than described by Sýkora, who they say subjected them to racial abuse. The verdict has not yet taken effect and both the defense and prosecution have appealed it.
According to court records cited by news server iDNES.cz, both men assaulted the 53-year-old Sýkora on 14 September 2013, beating him with a wooden joist about a meter long and kicking him. Court records say they also shouted "Die, we'll kill you, we'll set your house on fire" at him.
Sýkora suffered contusions all over his body. "The attack was aimed at his head. They struck him at least five times with the joist and kicked him at least five times," state prosecutor Jana Fišerová said.
Both defendants, however, claim they are innocent and describe the entire incident completely differently. "That's a total lie. Sýkora was drunk that day. He asked me to get David for him, and then they began to scuffle. They were grabbing each other by their sweaters. I heard David tell Sýkora not to call him a thief. I wanted them to knock it off, a car might have run them over. They listened to me and stopped. Then Sýkora called the police, who took us to the drunk tank," Ladislav Matuš was quoted as saying by news server Novinky.cz.
"I never had any stake in my hands, I never beat anyone. Sýkora cursed us as 'gypsies' and 'scum'," Ladislav Matuš told the court.
Ladislav Matuš also claims that Sýkora could have bruised himself during his work. As for David Matuš, he and his brother have been charged with another four crimes related to an incident that took place in Strýčkovice in mid-March of 2013.
Police say the brothers attacked a house in the village by throwing paving stones and rocks at it. They are said to have threatened to kill two men during the incident.
Ladislav Matuš previously told news server Romea.cz that the recent conflict was the culmination of longtime bad relations with their neighbors that began last year. "In October 2013 the son-in-law of Mr Müller came here, threw rocks at our window and threatened us. They were shouting at us that we had to come out or they were going to kill us. They had been drinking here at the fire station and they were lit. About four more of them came over within the next few minutes. We called the police and they came, but they didn't do anything about it," he said.
According to Ladislav Matuš, other conflicts continued after that because their neighbor, Josef Müller, redirected the spring that feeds their well into a new borehole of his own, depriving the Matuš family of water; their neighbors also allegedly assaulted and beat up yet another member of the Matuš family. "Mr Sýkora took him out into the meadow and worked him over, then he came here with a gang of about 15 people and attacked us," Ladislav Matuš told news server Romea.cz.
One of the reasons Ladislav Matuš is now facing two years in prison without the possibility of parole is because he has a criminal record. His driver's license has also been suspended for five years.
At the time that David Matuš committed the crime of which he has now been convicted, he was also on probation for another offense. That is why his 10-month prison sentence does not include the possibility of parole either.
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