Czech Republic: Yet another arson attack on a Romani home
At 1 AM CET today a Molotov cocktail was thrown into house on railway property occupied by a Romani family in Krty, Czech Republic. One man suffered second-degree burns as a result of the attack.
Local daily Karlovarský deník reports the Molotov cocktail landed in the bedroom where two young parents and their one-year-old child were sleeping. The flaming object landed just a few centimeters from the child's bed. At the time of the attack, 12 people were in the house.
"I jumped up, grabbed my child, and my wife and I ran out of the room just as we were. I did my best, but they were in total danger. When I tried to go back into the room, there was smoke everywhere. I did my best to put the fire out myself," the father said.
Firefighters from Jesenice, Kněževes, and Rakovník were on the scene immediately, as was a railway firefighting unit from Plzeň. The father of the family was taken to the hospital in Rakovník for treatment of second-degree burns on his leg. About CZK 1 000 worth of damage was caused, but the building, which is worth CZK 300 000, was saved.
According to Mayor Jaroslav Rambousek, the family that was attacked are not troublemakers. However, he refused to provide any more information to news server Romea.cz. "For the time being I am getting information from various sources that contradict one another. I don't want to speculate at this moment," Rambousek said.
"This is completely unfathomable to us, there is not the slightest problem with anyone living in that little house, they communicate with everyone normally and they are not aggressive. This case is very unusual. We just don't understand it," said Vice-Mayor Jan Brda, whom detectives have allowed to visit the crime scene as an independent observer. "The police have found several clues, but unfortunately I cannot release any more information than that."
Soňa Budská, spokesperson for the Central Bohemian Police, confirmed that information, stating: "Someone threw a bottle containing a substance on fire into a small house on railway property occupied by decent Romani people who are not troublemakers."
For now police are investigating the case as one of attempted grievous bodily harm for which the perpetrators would face between five and 12 years in prison. "We definitely are not able to say this was a racially motivated case. The investigation has only just begun and we will not be releasing any more information until we are instructed to wrap it up," Budská said. Until recently the house was occupied by someone else and police are not ruling out the possibility that the current occupants were targeted by mistake.
According to Brnda, the family concerned is said to be a bit isolated from the rest of the village, but there has never been any problem with them and no one has any reason to want to take revenge on them. Krty currently has only 107 inhabitants, and the Vice-Mayor said there is no record of any manifestations of racial intolerance there.
Similar attacks were recently committed in Býchory (Kolín district) and Nýrsko (Klatovy district). In Býchory someone threw a flaming torch into a Roma-occupied home. No one there was physically injured because the fire was put out in time. In Nýrsko two racists broke into a Roma-occupied apartment and nearly killed the father of the family, kicking him and beating him with a wooden bat.
Selected arson attacks on Romani homes over the past 15 years:
4 February 1996 - In Krnov (Bruntál district), four youths threw Molotov cocktails into two ground-floor apartments. The fire in one of the dwellings was not put out until firefighters arrived. A second attack was committed there on 16 February by two of the perpetrators of the 4 February arson, joined by two new assailants. Together they attempted to set another home on fire. A total of six youths were charged with the racially motivated attacks. In 2002 the court handed down suspended sentences to four of the men, while a fifth was sentenced to three years in prison.
17 January 1998 - A group of perpetrators threw a Molotov cocktail into the ground-floor apartment of a five-member Romani family in Krnov (Bruntál district). A 48-year-old woman suffered serious burns and a man was lightly injured. One hour later, an unidentified perpetrator set a car belonging to a Romani man on fire elsewhere in Krnov. Police charged three local youths with committing the first attack. In February 2002, the court sentenced Radek Bedrim, a member of a neo-Nazi group, to two years without parole and acquitted his two accomplices.
28 February 1998 - Also in Krnov, hooligans threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of a ground-floor apartment occupied by Roma. No one was injured.
19 October 1998 - At 2 AM an unidentified perpetrator threw a Molotov cocktail into the apartment of Romani family in Ostrava-Mariánské Hory. They all escaped without physical injury and managed to put out the fire.
12 October 1999 - An unknown arsonist set a Romani residence on fire in Plavy (Jablonec district) by throwing two Molotov cocktails through a closed window. A woman was sleeping with her two-month-old son and two other small children in the room that was targeted. The curtains and drapes caught fire.
14 July 2000 - A Romani family reported that two members of the skinhead movement attacked their small home in Rokycany with a Molotov cocktail. The gasoline-filled bottle bounced off the window frame and landed outside. No damage was caused to the room where three children were sleeping.
24 July 2002 - Three unidentified arsonists threw two Molotov cocktails into a Romani home in Karviná-Hranice. One struck the external wall of the house and the window sill, while the second flew through the open window. The occupants put out the fire themselves.
30 July 2007 - Unidentified arsonists threw a Molotov cocktail into a small house occupied by a Romani family in Vrbno pod Pradědem. There were five people in the house at the time, two adults and three children. No one suffered any physical injuries.
21 September 2008 - Someone threw a Molotov cocktail into the ground-floor apartment of a Romani family in Bruntál, setting the kitchen fixtures on fire. Five people were asleep in the apartment at the time of the attack. No one suffered any physical injuries.
19 April 2009 - Arsonists attacked a small house occupied by a Romani family in Vítkov (Opava district), throwing three Molotov cocktails into the home. Three people were injured in the subsequent blaze. The most serious injuries were suffered by a little girl who was not yet two years old. She sustained extensive second and third-degree burns over 80 % of her body. Four right-wing extremists were charged with attempted racially motivated murder in the case. In March 2011, the court sent them all to prison for either 20 or 22 years. All of the perpetrators have appealed their sentences to the Supreme Court.
24 May 2009 - Arsonists attacked a Romani family in Zdiby, near Prague. Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at their home. No one suffered physical injury.
24 September 2009 - The Prima television channel reported that assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at a Romani home in the South Moravian town of Mikulov. No one suffered physical injury. The report did not give precise details as to when the incident took place.
14 March 2010 - A Molotov cocktail attack was committed on the home of a Romani family in the Bedřiška settlement of Ostrava. No one suffered physical injury. Police officially said the attack was not motivated by racism, but by a dispute between the family and their neighbors, who committed the attack.
3 April 2010 - Someone threw two Molotov cocktails into the entryway of an apartment building on Rybářská street in Opava. They did not catch fire and no one suffered physical injury. The Czech Press Agency reported that Romani people lived in the building.
11 July 2011 - Someone threw a lit torch into a Roma-occupied home in Býchory (Kolín district). No one suffered physical injury. Criminal prosecution has been initiated against four suspects.
10 August 2011 - In Krty (Rakovník district) someone has thrown a Molotov cocktail into a Roma-occupied home. The fire was put out and one person suffered light injuries.
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