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Czech Republic: Non-Romani men fighting "about a girl" misreported by media as neo-Nazi brawl with Roma

17.2.2017 7:53
The scene of a brawl in Litvínov, Czech Republic, February 2017. (PHOTO:   Denis Tokár)
The scene of a brawl in Litvínov, Czech Republic, February 2017. (PHOTO: Denis Tokár)

Online news server udalosti112.cz broadcast reporting including video footage on 12 February claiming that a street battle had erupted in the town of Litvínov, Czech Republic between neo-Nazis and Romani people, writing about a "battle of a group of skinheads with local Roma" that "employed local and state police and emergency medical responders". News server Romea.cz was then contacted by an eyewitness to the incident who said it had not been a clash between right-wing extremists and Romani people, but an ordinary "pub brawl" among non-Romani locals involving a dispute "about a girl".

That was then confirmed by Zdeněk Urban, head of the local police in Litvínov, whose patrol was called to the scene of the crime. "We have the same information as you," Urban told Romea.cz.

"The first information was about Roma and skinheads, but a racial motivation has not been confirmed," Urban said. "We detained suspects at the crime scene and we have handed the entire case over to the state police for investigation."

Ludmila Světláková, press spokesperson for the Czech Police's Regional Directorate in Litvínov, gave a similar statement about the matter. "This was a prearranged, confrontational meeting between two [non-Romani] men who invited their friends along. It had nothing to do with Romani people. Others appeared on the scene after the noise caused by the brawl drew their attention. We have reports that newspapers wrote about this as a brawl between Roma and 'skinheads'; journalists frequently write that way in order to sensationalize their coverage," she said.

An eyewitness to the incident also contacted news server Romea.cz about it. "I saw an article alleging that 'gadje' and Roma were brawling and I would like to correct the record," the man wrote.

"Two groups of non-Roma men were brawling at the crime scene, the Roma were just watching," the eyewitness told Romea.cz. News server uldaosti112.cz later updated is coverage to state that police had ruled out racial motivation for the crime, but the online headline of the article with its incorrect characterization was unchanged as of 13 February.

adg, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Hoax, Litvínov, Média, Násilí



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