Czech skinheads march on behalf of sentenced murderer
Some 220 Czech skinheads and other people today marched through the town in order to highlight what they call a judicial error due to which a skinhead was sentenced for having murdered a Romany in the early 2000s.
In 2004, Vlastimil Pechanec, then a 23-year-old skinhead, was sentenced by the Prague High Court to 17 years in prison for a racially-motivated murder of a Romany man in 2001.
The march started at the railway station and ended at the Svitavy main square. There, organisers read the letter written by Pechanec from the prison and delivered speeches denouncing his verdict and demanding the renewal of his trial.
There were no incidents during the march, patrolled by some 50 riot police.
The protesters chanted various slogans such as "Pechanec is no murderer." They carried the banners saying "Freedom and Justice for Innocent Pechanec" and "Victim of Judiciary."
According to the verdict, Pechanec stabbed to death a Romany after a verbal conflict. The victim left behind a seriously ill partner and two small children.
Pechanec formerly openly declared himself a skinhead, but in September 2001 he asserted before the court that he had parted with the skinhead movement five years ago.
Before the murder, Pechanec was three times sentenced for violent crimes, such a breaching public peace and propagation of movements aimed at suppressing people's rights and freedoms.
Moreover, he spent two years (1998-99) in prison for having attacked a young Romany with a knife. In May 2001, Pechanec was given 14 months behind the bars for attacking two anarchists.
A number of rallies have been held in protest against the verdict.
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