Czech Republic: Verdicts announced in case that sparked 2013 anti-Romani violence
Today the Regional Court in Ústí nad Labem handed down sentences against the five people involved in last year's brutal assault on a married couple in the town of Duchcov (Teplice district) ranging from one year on probation to three years in prison. The one juvenile assailant involved, who was the most brutal, will spend two years in prison for committing grievous bodily harm, rioting, and attempted theft.
The court found all of the assailants guilty of rioting and grievous bodily harm. Their female victim, who is still receiving medical treatment for the repercussions of her injuries, was awarded CZK 100 000 by the court as compensation for her medical expenses, while the male victim will receive CZK 20 000.
According to information from our correspondent at the scene, both the defendants and the state prosecutor are taking eight days in which to consider whether to appeal. The victims are also considering an appeal.
While the court did not recognize that the assault had a racist subtext, the victims and their legal representative, Klára Kalibová, believe the incident was a racist one. "Nevertheless, my clients say that there are racists in every nation and that the principle of collective blame must neverbe applied," Kalibová told Romea.cz.
The lawyer made her remarks in the corridor of the courthouse prior to the opening of today's hearing. By law the courtroom was closed to the public in order to protect the identity of the juvenile assailant.
The victims are now considering whether to appeal today's verdict. "The court did not grant our clients' claims, it did not take into consideration the intensity of the harms realized. This incident has interfered with their lives in a fundamental way and they are suffering the repercussions to this day," Kalibová told Romea.cz, adding that on the other hand it would be very stressful for her clients to undergo a lengthy appeals process.
The court found that the main person to blame for the incident was the juvenile, who was 16 years old at the time of the attacks, a fact the court had to take into consideration. "It is primarily he who sparked both conflicts. If it were not for his conduct, the other defendants would not be sitting here," said Judge Kurešová.
One of the female assailants received the harshest sentence, three years in prison. The court decided not to make her eligible for parole because she has a previous conviction for rioting; the other three adult defendants will be placed on probation.
The incident occurred during the late night and early morning hours of 17 and 18 May last year. All five defendants confessed in court to attacking the married couple.
The defendants have reportedly already sent the victims an apology and money, first CZK 10 000 and then separate payments of either CZK 2 000 or CZK 2 500 depending on what they could save up, according to news server iDNES.cz. Altogether they have already paid the couple approximately CZK 20 000; the owner of the motorbike that the juvenile attempted to steal that same evening (and whom he also beat up) has also reportedly received an apology and CZK 10 000 from the defendants.
Local police officer Jiří L., who was in the municipal police station located just a few meters away from the scene of the crime, watched the events unfold on a CCTV monitor. While he did eventually head out into the street in response to the incident, he then returned to the station without personally intervening.
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