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Czech Republic: Handful of neo-Nazis demonstrate in Vítkov to raise money for racist arsonists who attacked Romani family there

17.4.2016 9:50
Just a handful of neo-Nazis assembled on 16 April 2016 for a demonstration in the Czech town of Vítkov, where seven years ago during the late night hours of 18 April and the early morning hours of 19 April an arson attack was perpetrated on a house occupied by a Romani family. (PHOTO:  Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
Just a handful of neo-Nazis assembled on 16 April 2016 for a demonstration in the Czech town of Vítkov, where seven years ago during the late night hours of 18 April and the early morning hours of 19 April an arson attack was perpetrated on a house occupied by a Romani family. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

Just a few neo-Nazis assembled yesterday at a demonstration in the Czech town of Vítkov, where seven years ago during the late night hours of 18 April and the early morning hours of 19 April an arson attack was committed on a home occupied by a Romani family. The neo-Nazis originally invited the public to yesterday's assembly by saying they wanted to support the racist arsonists who committed that particular attack.

Organizers subsequently altered the reason for the gathering, asserting that it would instead be an assembly against the "mafia" of collections agents, the courts and police. At around 14:00 CET yesterday, when the demonstration was supposed to begin, only a couple of people were at the demonstration site.

Even though organizers asserted that the demonstration was not intended to support the racist arsonists, the first speech involved a call to raise money for "the boys who are in jail". Those speaking said they believe the men received disproportionately severe punishments for the arson attack.

Similar words were spoken in the rest of the speeches. The speakers also verbally assailed Romani people, using the term "inadaptables" to refer to them.

Demonstrators alleged that the Romani people themselves were to blame for the arson attack and also referred to refugees as "scum" and "vermin".  Pavel Matějný of the extremist organization National Resurgence (Národní obroda), which organized the event, posted the following to his Facebook profile before the demonstration:  "The action in Vítkov will target the mafia of the collections agents, courts and police, as announced... Nothing more, nothing less, just like our action in 2013. It will not be focused on supporting those who were convicted in the Vítkov case, as they themselves don't want that. However, we will not waste the efforts of the dozens of people, the three political parties, and the many associations who have been preparing this action for six months."

The racist arson attack on the house occupied by a Romani family was perpetrated in 2009. Three of the people who were in the building at the time were injured as a result.

The most serious injuries were suffered by the family's youngest daughter, Natálka, who was about to turn two. She suffered life-endangering third and fourth-degree burns over more than 80 % of her body.

The trial of the racists began on 11 May 2010 - neo-Nazis Václav Cojocaru, Jaromír Lukeš, Ivo Müller and David Vaculík were charged with being accomplices to attempted murder and property damage. According to the indictment, the defendants committed acts intended to result in deaths.

Their motive was the victims' ethnicity. The attack was also supposed to have been committed to honor the 120th anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler.

The verdict in the case was announced on 20 October, finding all defendants guilty of attempted murder and property damage. Lukeš, Müller and Vaculík were sentenced to 22 years in prison, while Cojocaru, who had no prior criminal record, got 20 years, and all of the defendants had to pay compensation.

The convicts immediately appealed. The appeals court subsequently reduced Müller's sentence by two years because he collaborated with investigators and expressed regret.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Demonstrace, Extremism, Racism, Žhářský útok ve Vítkově



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