Czech Republic: Media downplay last weekend's racist murder
Some Czech media outlets are once again distorting their reporting of a case from north Bohemia, this time from the town of Teplice, where a Romani man has fallen victim to murder. According to TV Nova and the tabloid Blesk, the man, who was almost 50 at the time of his death, was murdered because of an argument over a bratwurst he is alleged to have stolen. No other media outlets have reported that the victim was Romani. According to the testimony of one of the victim's relatives, however, the entire matter had nothing to do with the alleged theft of anything. The murdered Romani man, 49-year-old Ivan Jarka, nicknamed Mikoro, was standing up for some young Romani guys who had done nothing to anyone and were being attacked by racists. The murderer allegedly stabbed him 21 times with a knife for defending them.
TV Nova's "soft" version
"The grand opening of the spa season in Teplice has been marked by a tragic event. After a nighttime brawl on Beneš Square, a 39-year-old man has died [his correct age was 49 - Editors]. A crazy argument over a bratwurst resulted in murder. The opening of the spa season was being celebrated in Teplice into the early morning hours. Everyone was in a buoyant mood by around 4 AM, some under the strong influence of alcohol, but several stands were still open, including a bratwurst stand. The 39-year-old man [sic], who was allegedly drunk, evidently stole two bratwurst from the grill and tried to disappear with them, but the stand operator noticed and took off after him. Evidently they began to argue and, according to information received by TV Nova, the stand operator stabbed the alleged thief with a knife, who suffered injuries to which he later succumbed. Rapid intervention by emergency medical technicians was not enough to help him." This is how TV Nova reported the case on its online news server, tn.cz. The daily tabloid Blesk based its own reporting on that information.
The relatives' version
Vratislav Gorola, a nephew of the murdered Romani man, witnessed the entire event and claims that Ivan Jarka was murdered for standing up for some young Romani boys who had been attacked for racist reasons. "The Czech racists were selling bratwurst and hot dogs, and they were strongly under the influence of alcohol. They noticed some young Roma walking past who weren't bothering anyone and they started shouting 'Gypsies' and 'Black mugs' at them. They chased them all the way to the town hall, where they attacked them brutally. When my uncle saw that, he ran to help them. One of the racists started to stab him with a knife and got him in the back. He just kept stabbing, a total of 21 times. The death blow was to the heart," Gorola told news server Romea.cz.
We asked the press spokesperson for the hospital in Teplice to confirm whether the victim did indeed suffer 21 stab wounds. As of this writing the hospital has not yet responded to our e-mail.
Vratislav Gorola says the claim that the attacker was responding to the theft of bratwurst is a lie intended to cover up this racist attack. He went on to say that representatives of the institutions involved are afraid of a justifiably emotional uprising among local Romani residents and of possible unrest during the spa season.
"I witnessed those assailants giving the Nazi salute and shouting 'Heil Hitler'. We can thank the criminal police officers who saw everything and gave my uncle first aid. Unfortunately, his injuries were critical and he died after being transported to the hospital. He was murdered because he was not indifferent to what was going on around him. May God give him eternal glory," Gorola said.
Jozef Miker, a famous Romani activist from the nearby town of Krupka, is of a similar opinion."They are afraid to publicize what happened because the spa season is underway and they don't want Romani people making a fuss," he told news server Romea.cz.
Police: We will be silent
"We will not provide any further information to any journalists because the investigation is underway. We will shed light on this case when we can," Veronika Hyšplerová, police spokesperson for the Ústí Region, told news server Romea.cz. The Ústí Police Directorate issued the following brief press release about the case:
"In the early morning hours of 24 May a physical attack was perpetrated in Teplice by several drunken persons. This assault resulted in the death of a 49-year-old man. Shortly thereafter a 31-year-old man was arrested in connection with this crime and charged with murder. The state prosecutor filed a motion for him to be remanded into custody, which was accepted on Sunday, and the 31-year-old man was escorted to prison."
Activist: The Czech media are anti-Roma
Romani activist Jozef Miker is bothered by how some Czech media outlets are handling information of this type. "None of the media outlets reported that the victim in this case is Romani. but whenever a perpetrator or a suspect is allegedly Roma, they almost always report that - and many people immediately apply that to Roma as a whole. In my view this is crap. Some media do their best to stir up hate against Roma and unrest targeting them. They do this on the basis of an artificially created atmosphere implying that majority-society people always behave decently in all ways, while people from the Romani minority always behave badly or are even the enemy in all ways. This is the same thing that happened in Rumburk before the unrest in the Šluknov foothills or in Břeclav before the anti-Roma demonstrations there," Miker told news server Romea.cz.
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