Czech Republic: Two Romani men victim of shooting, suspect no longer in custody
A 63-year-old man suspected of shooting two young Romani men, one of them fatally, in the town of Tanvald (Jablonec district) has been released on his own recognizance. Regional state prosecutor Lenka Bradáčová told the Czech Press Agency today that the suspect can only be taken into custody once he is charged.
One 22-year-old victim of the shooting passed away during the early morning hours of Sunday, while his 24-year-old brother suffered serious injuries. The state prosecutor will not be publicizing any more information about the case today.
The unfortunate incident took place shortly before 1:30 AM on the outskirts of the town near the neighboring village of Desna, by the railroad tracks near Krkonošská street. The family says the youths were evidently in between visits to their grandmothers to wish them a happy new year. Both managed to return home from the scene of the crime. Emergency medical technicians then transported them to hospital.
Stanislav Mackovík, director of Liberec Regional Emergency Medical Services, said the second gunshot, which did not cause loss of life, was reported to the doctors later. "We determined that one patient had a gunshot wound to the chest. He was transported to surgery," Mackovík told Czech Television.
Friends of the deceased have begun lighting candles at the scene of the tragedy. "I can't believe it, I just spoke with him earlier that evening," Petr Lavička, a longtime friend of the fatally wounded youth, told news server Novinky.cz despondently.
Lavička said the shooting occurred about 200 meters from the building where both brothers lived with their parents. "Some maniac has to have done this, I can't explain it otherwise," Lavička said, shaking his head over the candles lit for his deceased friend, whom he remembered as carefree and non-confrontational.
Lenka Markovičová, spokesperson for Liberec Regional Emergency Medical Services, said the fatally wounded man's brother is not in danger of losing his life. "He was just superficially wounded," she told the Czech daily Právo, adding that she could not release further details given the ongoing investigation.
Police arrested and interrogated a 63-year-old man after the incident. He was later released. Criminal charges have not been filed. "We can only consider taking someone into custody when charges are filed, so the person who was interrogated has been released," Bradáčová said, adding that for the time being the entire case has not yet reached the point where more information can be publicized.
On Sunday Bradáčová said it would not be possible to decide whether the shooting would be classified as a crime or whether it was an incident of self-defense. The media are reporting speculations that both youths allegedly attacked the older man.
Several members of the Czech-Romani Civic Association (Česko-romské občanské sdružení), based in Nový Bor (Česká Lípa district) traveled to Tanvald today. After a machete attack was committed by several Romani people against the customers of a bar in Nový Bor, the association became involved in community relations. Association members visited the scene of the crime in Tanvald and spoke with the victims' family. Association chair Štefan Gorol has called the shooting incident an execution.
"Their hands were empty. Even if they had been holding something, the man whom they are accused of having attacked could have just fired a couple of warning shots, then maybe take a third shot at their feet or hands to disable them. He executed them," Gorol said, adding that a demonstration over the incident could take place on Saturday in Tanvald.
More Romani people have moved into the town in recent years. Concerns have arisen that the inter-ethnic situation in the town might explode as it did in the Šluknov foothills or in Nový Bor last year, but the victims' family have been residents of Tanvald for a very long time. Mayor of Tanvald Petr Polák said there had never been any significant problems with the victims' parents or grandmother, but that the same could not be said of the youths, whom the mayor claims both have criminal records. He has not made a statement about the man who reportedly shot the youths and the media has not publicized any information about him either.
Polák is concerned that problems could now arise in the town. "We are doing our best to monitor the entire situation so as to prevent any eventual trouble. We are receiving information, we are in contact with the Czech Police, and the municipal police are naturally involved as well," the mayor said.
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