Czech skinheads protest on behalf of jailed skinhead
Around 200 Czech skinheads today marched through the town in protest against what they consider a judicial error in the case of Vlastimil Pechanec who was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the racially motivated murder of a Romany in 2004.
They demanded the return of the trial, claiming that Pechanec had been sentenced unfairly.
The march took place for the third time. Last year, about 220 people demonstrated and two years ago about 90. There were no incidents during the marches.
"Everything was in order, there was no reason to intervene," local deputy police chief Jaroslav Krul told CTK.
The march started at the railway station shortly before 15:00. The demonstrators carried the banners saying "Freedom and Justice for Vlastimil Pechanec," "Pechanec is no Murderer" and "Victim of the System."
The protesters chanted various slogans and listened to the speeches at the square in the town centre for one hour. One of the organisers read a message from Pechanec.
"Instead of looking for the real perpetrator, I was sentenced. Where is the justice? Courts succumb to political pressures," Pechanec wrote from his prison cell.
The march ended at around 17:00. There was also Pechanec's mother Bohumila Pechancova who said her son was innocent.
"After the many years, I do not believe in the return of the trial, but I am glad that his friends have come," Pechancova said.
In 2004, 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.
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 as breaching of 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.
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