Czech Republic: Hundreds pay last respects to Romani gunshot victim, disruption of funeral attempted
The funeral of the 22-year-old Romani man who was shot dead on New Year's Day took place today in Tanvald (Jablonec district). At 11 AM a requiem mass began at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in the Šumburk quarter, after which the funeral procession set out for the nearby cemetery. From there those attending then set out for the place where the tragedy took place in the early morning hours last Sunday. They honored the victim's memory at the scene with a minute of silence, lit candles, and left peacefully.
Approximately 300 members of the Romani community turned out to honor the memory of the deceased. Correspondents for Romea.cz reported that several undercover police officers filmed the entire funeral. "Police checked the vehicles in which Romani people were arriving," a Romea.cz correspondent reported directly from the scene at around 10 AM.
Hundreds of people attended the requiem mass, with the church filled to overflowing. Dozens of people remained in front of the church, waiting to accompany the coffin on its final journey to the local cemetery. During the funeral service a woman who fainted had to be carried out of the church.
Shortly after 11:30, the coffin bearing the remains of the deceased was carried out of the church and the funeral procession set off for the nearby cemetery. Hundreds of Romani attendees then set out from the cemetery at around 12:00 for the funeral procession to the scene of the tragedy, where they honored the gunshot victim by lighting candles just after 13:00. At 13:15 the public commemoration was over and people began to disperse.
A Romea.cz correspondent reported that an ethnic Czech tried to disrupt the funeral by insulting the deceased in a loud voice. Police reported no incidents.
"We did not notice any incidents or problems in relation to the funeral," Regional Police spokesperson Vlasta Suchánková confirmed to the Czech Press Agency. She said officers took advantage of their powers to close off the site where the youth died while the public commemoration was taking place there. The police action meant that a small group of people who wanted to express their disagreement on the scene with what has been happening around the death of the young Romani man were prevented from accessing the site.
A 63-year-old man from Tanvald is said to have fatally shot the Romani youth and injured his older brother in the early morning hours of New Year's Day. All further details related to the incident are still the subject of an ongoing investigation. Regional State Prosecutor Lenka Bradáčová said criminal charges have not yet been filed against anyone over the incident. The man involved gave a statement and was released. Bradáčová said all possible theories of what might have happened at the scene are being verified, from murder to self-defense. She has excluded racial motivation and said there might be progress in the case next week.
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