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Czech Republic: More violence between ethnic Czech and Romani people

Ústí nad Labem, 16.10.2011 23:46, (ROMEA)

Police in the Czech Republic are investigating an attack reportedly committed by a group of Romani people against two ethnic Czechs in the North Bohemian town of Ústí nad Labem. The incident took place Friday evening and resulted in the injury and hospitalization of the ethnic Czechs, according to TV Nova. However, news server Romea.cz reports that the entire event evidently unfolded differently than TV Nova has reported.

News server Romea.cz has interviewed a woman who witnessed the start of the entire incident. "I was hanging my laundry out on the balcony that evening and I saw a Romani woman, her husband and her son running down the street. They were being chased by a man waving a knife and yelling at them, 'I'll kill you, you black swine, you black mugs, you'll die here!' The Roma were yelling for help. As they fled towards my building, the lady fell. Her husband ran back for her. Their attacker was waving his knife in her face as she was lying on the ground. Her husband pushed him away and they managed to get inside to hide," the witness told us.

News server Romea.cz has the name of the witness, who does not want it revealed because she fears her life would be in danger if it were. "I stopped paying attention, and then about three minutes later I saw a crowd of people in front of the building," the witness told us. A brawl then took place between the knife-wielding assailant and other Romani people who had come to the aid of the attacked family.

"I was in shock when I saw the TV Nova report and upset by how they described the entire incident. They turned it against the Roma, but that's not how it was," the witness said of the media reports, which in her opinion have exaggerated the incident and described it completely one-sidedly.

When the witness contacted TV Nova regarding their report, she says an editor told her local Romani residents had not wanted to say anything about the incident. "They are all afraid, he [the attacker] lives around the corner. It's just not possible for some crazy guy with a knife and a machete in his belt to wander around the housing estate here. Everyone knows him," the witness said of the knife-wielding man who hurled racial abuse at the couple.

The incident took place in the Mojžíř neighborhood. "There are children living among us here, the television is exaggerating it, they listen to one version only, that just can't be. Many people saw what happened, but they are afraid to testify. We can't just sit on our hands," the emotionally distraught witness told news server Romea.cz.

The ethnic Czech man who was reportedly attacked described a different version of the events to TV Nova. "While walking home through the parking lot, Romani people attacked and beat us up such that we were hospitalized," the man said from his hospital bed. During the incident he suffered a concussion, a head injury, a broken arm and wrist, and bruising all over his body. Doctors say it will take him at least two months to heal. The second ethnic Czech man who was reportedly assaulted is being treated at home and does not remember anything after receiving a blow to the head.

"We have received the report of the assault and are investigating the case," police spokesperson Helena Mildorfová told TV Nova, which broadcast the testimony of other witnesses who evidently saw the repercussions of the man's knife attack. "He was lying passively on the ground being beaten on the back and they stepped on his head," one witness told TV Nova.

News server Romea.cz has learned that the same knife-wielding ethnic Czech assailants allegedly threatened other Romani people earlier that same afternoon. Those victims have filed criminal charges.

Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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