Czech Republic: Romani people who responded to racist innuendo by giving the Nazi salute face up to three years in prison
The local daily Domažlický Deník reports that the Czech Prosecutor's Office has filed charges with the District Court in Klatovy against two Romani men from Kašperské Hory, Lukáš Červeňák (26) and Martin Škvár (32), for giving the Nazi salute in a restaurant in Kašperské Hory on 29 December 2016. Both men, however, claim that they did so in response to racist sentiments expressed toward them by one of the restaurant's customers.
The national daily Právo reports that the men explained that a customer called them thieves because of their skin color, and they then gave the Nazi salute as a provocation, since he had been so racially intolerant toward them. "What happened was a regular put his medicine on the table and said to [the Romani men] in jest - or rather, as a drunken bit of fatuousness - that he hoped [the Romani men] wouldn't eat his pills, or that the pills wouldn't disappear. They took it personally, as him implying that all Romani people automatically steal. That was the trigger, and then they began to get stupid," restaurant operator Lukáš Zabloudil told the daily Právo.
Both of the Romani men, according to the indictment, extended their right arms in front of them as if giving the Nazi salute and shouted "Sieg Heil" at least twice in front of the other customers, with Škvár also shouting "Heil Hitler", according to Právo. Červeňák put two fingers of his left hand between his nose and upper lip in order to mimic Hitler's mustache.
When the owner of the business asked the Romani men to leave, Škvár allegedly threatened to beat up the entire pub and intentionally chest-butted the restaurant owner more than once. The situation did not calm down until police arrived.
Both Romani men are charged with committing the offense of displaying sympathy for a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms, while the older one is also charged with rioting. They are now awaiting trial.
"The indictment was filed with the District Court in Klatovy on Thursday, 27 April," State Prosecutor Jiřina Vítovcová said. If convicted, the court could send both men behind bars for up to three years.
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