Czech Republic: DSSS extremists march in support of racist murderer
Approximately 130 extremists and neo-Nazis from the Workers' Social Justice Party (Dělnická strana sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS) marched through the town of Svitavy in the Czech Republic this afternoon. Their march was intended to express support for the imprisoned racist murderer, Vlastimil Pechanec, who was convicted in 2003 of the racially motivated murder of a Romani man in Svitavy, Ota Absolon, and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Dozens of police officers were on the scene and a special forces riot unit of the South Moravian Regional Police traveled to Svitavy to enforce security. Invitations to the event were published on the website of the right-wing extremist DSSS and on the neo-Nazi website of the National Resistance (Národní odpor).
The march set off from the train station. Demonstrators carried banners demanding freedom for Pechanec and chanting various slogans. They also read aloud a letter from Pechanec, who is imprisoned in Karviná. The march then returned to the train station, where it ended. "Police will monitor the situation until the demonstrators have left town," Anna Štegnerová, spokesperson for the Svitavy Police, told the Czech Press Agency.
Members of the ultra-right have been gathering annually in Svitavy to express support for Pechanec for several years now. Last year the event was attended by roughly 150 of his supporters.
According to the final verdict, Pechanec stabbed Ota Absolon twice in the abdomen with a knife in June 2001 at a discotheque in Svitavy. The 30-year-old Romani man passed away in hospital. His common-law wife, with whom he had two young children, succumbed to cancer in 2002. Pechanec defended himself in court by saying the trial was rigged and the evidence fabricated.
Absolon's murder was not the first racially motivated violent crime committed by Pechanec. In August 1997, Pechanec randomly selected another Romani man, Ladislav Pešta, outside the Svitavy post office and used a knife to inflict a 17-centimeter long gash to the right part of his chest. Doctors said it was a miracle Pešta survived.
Just one year prior to the attack on Pešta, Pechanec and a gang shouting racist slogans beat up the customers of a discotheque near Brno. At the time he was serving a year of probation for organizing a racist march in Svitavy and for throwing stones into Romani dwellings, demolishing the interior of one. That did not deter him from committing further racially motivated violence.
Pechanec was sentenced to two years in prison for stabbing Pešta. For the attack on the discotheque he was sentenced to three and a half years in maximum security prison in 1999. He appealed and the verdict was overturned and replaced with a sentence of probation.
Just a few months later, the situation repeated itself. Pechanec attacked a young anarchist and his girlfriend at the train station in Česká Třebova. That time he got 14 months without probation, appealed, and managed to murder Otta Absolon before the Regional Court could rule on the first-instance verdict (which it upheld).
Pechanec committed several other assaults and made threats of violence which are not on his criminal record because they were evaluated by police as misdemeanor-level offenses. For example, Pechanec beat up a random passer-by because he refused to accompany Pechanec on a "gypsy hunt".
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