Czech Republic: Sentences in "machete attack" appealed, longest is 16 years
Today the Regional Court in Liberec sentenced three of the five assailants from the "machete attack" case in Nový Bor (Česká Lípa district) for attempted murder, while the other two were convicted of grievous bodily harm and battery. The sentences ranged from three to 16 years in prison.
The court's decision has yet to take effect, as both the defendants and the state prosecutor have appealed it. During the attack in August 2011, the assailants injured three men in the "Pivní pomoc" bar in Nový Bor, one of whom was said to have been at risk of losing his life as a result of his injuries, according to a court expert.
Judge Eva Drahotová said the attack was revenge for a previous conflict in the bar between a waitress and two Romani youths who wanted to play video poker. Another customer punched one of the youths during that initial encounter.
"We are convinced this happened in response to the fact that someone assaulted the son of Mr [Vojtěch] Husák somehow, giving rise to emotions and the feeling that they should go back there to settle the matter," Drahotová said, adding that the Romani men's reaction was disproportionate. "It is not possible to behave this way," she emphasized.
The group of Romani men was said to have burst inside the bar without asking who had assaulted the youth or why. They attacked the other customers without warning.
Husák (age 39), was sentenced to 16 years in prison as the leader of the group. Jakub Žiga (age 21) was sentenced to 15 years. A third defendant sentenced for attempted murder was given a five-year sentence because he was a juvenile at the time and can only be given a sentence half as long as an adult would receive.
Antonín Sinu was also originally charged with attempted murder, but the court changed the charges in his case to those of grievous bodily harm, for which he has been sentenced to three years in prison. A fifth assailant, also a juvenile, has been sentenced to 3.5 years without the possibility of parole for battery.
The hearing today was accompanied by strict security measures and the relatives of the defendants were openly disappointed with the verdicts, lamenting them and threatening revenge for them. The relatives believe the sentencing is too high, as no one was actually killed as a result of the assault.
In 2011 the "machete attack" sparked several anti-Romani demonstrations in northern Bohemia. However, according to the Vice-Mayor of Nový Bor, Stanislava Silná, the town of 12 000 is not a dangerous place.
"We are a calm town, that was an excess, something unusual," she said. The town also praises the Romani patrols that collaborate with municipal police there in an effort to prevent crime.
"We are satisfied with them, it's a good thing, we will be requesting a subsidy for that work from the Interior Ministry once more," Silná said. The town hall has also decided to ban gambling and the last gambling machines will disappear from its territory by the end of 2014.
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