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Czech Republic: Racist murderer of Romani man is ultra-right's candidate in regional elections

17.2.2016 18:59
Vlastimil Pechanec, convicted of the racist murder of a Romani man, Otto Absolon, in Svitavy, was photographed on 17 November 2014 at a neo-Nazi demonstration in Brno. (PHOTO:  Romea.cz)
Vlastimil Pechanec, convicted of the racist murder of a Romani man, Otto Absolon, in Svitavy, was photographed on 17 November 2014 at a neo-Nazi demonstration in Brno. (PHOTO: Romea.cz)

Vlastimil Pechanec, who was convicted in 2003 of racially-motivated murder, will run in the Czech Republic's regional elections this autumn as a candidate for the Worker's Social Justice Party (Dělnická stranu sociální spravedlnosti - DSSS). Pechanec, who was characterized during his trial by expert witnesses as a recidivist whom it would be hard to reform, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the racist murder of a Romani man, Otto Absolon, in the town of Svitavy, and was then released on parole after serving 12 years of that sentence.

Before being sentenced for murder, Pechanec had been convicted of two other crimes, grievous bodily harm and rioting. In 2001 he attacked Mr Absolon with a knife when a group of Romani people entered a discotheque.

Pechanec stabbed Mr Absolon twice in the abdomen and the 30-year-old victim died as a result of his wounds. According to the court, Pechanec addressed Mr Absolon with racist abuse before attacking and murdering him for absolutely no reason other than that he was a Rom.

Mr Absolon was survived by two young children and his seriously ill common-law wife, who passed away one year later. Despite the evidence that resulted in his conviction, Pechanec insists he did not murder Mr Absolon.

In 2014 Pechanec was released on parole and last year the court acceded to his attorney's request that the biological material on the knife considered to be the murder weapon be re-tested. In December the court announced that no reason had been found to re-open Pechanec's trial.

Pechanec could continue seeking a retrial if a new expert witness assessment were to be submitted to the court, but he cannot afford one. He wants to raise the money through a "benefit concert" in mid-March.

Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) was the first to publish the information about Pechanec's DSSS candidacy in its insert for the Pardubice Region. The author of that article, Jaroslav Hubený, felt the need to praise Pechanec's prerequisites for becoming a politician, which he sees as the fact that Pechanec knows how to cheer on his favorite basketball team from the stands.

"His relationship to sports illustrates that basketball fans in Svitavy have been able to repeatedly see him - and mainly hear him - at the league's basketball games, where he has taken up the role of drummer and 'cheerleader' with a megaphone in his hand. One prerequisite for a politician, i.e., that he not be afraid to stand up against a crowd and against his opponents, Pechanec definitely has," Hubený wrote in his article.

Expert witnesses said the DSSS candidate was a hard-to-reform recidivist

In 2003 the High Court in Prague sentenced Pechanec to 17 years in prison. The length of the sentence was justified by the racial motivation for the crime and expert witness assessments that labeled Pechanec an incorrigible person.

Prior to his conviction for racially-motivated murder, Pechanec had already experienced serious problems with the law. In 1996, at the age of 17, he was put on parole for one year for shouting racist slogans and beating up the customers of a discotheque in the Brno area, a crime he committed with others.

His next suspended sentence was handed down for his organization of a racist march in Svitavy during which he threw rocks into Romani homes and demolished the interior of one of them. One year later, in August 1997, Pechanec stabbed another Romani man, Ladislav Pešt, in the right side of his chest when they were both on the street in front of the post office in Svitavy.

Doctors said it was a miracle Pešt survived. Pechanec was sentenced to two years in prison for that attack.

ČTK, voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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DSSS, Pechanec, Soud, Volby



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