Czech trial begins of brutal, allegedly racially-motivated assault by non-Romani adults on Romani children
On 18 November the District Court in Přerov, Czech Republic began the trial of an assault committed by two non-Romani adults against a group of Romani children in the park of the chateau at Lipník nad Bečvou. According to the indictment, Petra and Stanislav Pumprla of Přerov are charged with committing bodily harm, defamation of a nation, race, ethnic or other group of persons, and hooliganism.
The couple is charged with physically and verbally assaulting seven Romani children, three of whom then sought medical treatment in hospital as a result. The defendants reject the charges.
The Pumprlas claim they came into contact with the children while addressing a problem with them, but insist they did not cause harm to any of them. They face up to five years in prison if convicted.
The court adjourned Monday without setting another hearing date. The incident happened on 7 April of this year.
According to the indictment, the couple physically and verbally assaulted seven minors. "They called them 'black mugs' and insulted them with other expressions," prosecutor Ivo Krobot told the court.
The charges state that the insults were followed by the adults punching the children in their faces and slapping them. In some cases the punches allegedly knocked the children to the ground, where the assailants then allegedly kicked them.
"The female defendant lifted up the boy who was prone, threw him back on the ground, and kicked him," the prosecutor told the court. Her husband is said to have proceeded in the same way.
The prosecutor told the court that three of the assaulted children needed to be treated in hospital, and according to their medical reports they suffered cervical spine sprains, light concussion and contusion, and superficial injuries. Two children did not seek medical attention, according to the prosecution.
"A wealth of evidence has been gathered, in particular testimonies from those present on the spot who have described what happened," the prosecutor said. The court said it intends to summon an expert witness to assess the evidence of the children's injuries.
The accused couple, who live in Přerov, have denied committing the attack. The man defended himself by alleging that he has grown up among Romani people his entire life and has never had a problem with them.
He testified that his 14-year-old daughter had told him she had been repeatedly assaulted by some Romani children while traveling to visit friends in Lipník nad Bečvou. "We got in the car and drove to the courtyard of the chateau. There was a group of children there. We approached them so I could ask them what cause they had to do what they did," the man said.
Before he could say anything, he claims the children began to vulgarly abuse him. "My only physical contact with the children was that I pushed one and slapped another. I don't know where they might have injured themselves," Pumprla said, adding that the group had dispersed after that.
Pumprla's wife also denies being to blame for the children's injuries. She pointed out to the court that the couple has adopted a boy with Romani roots.
"We just wanted to find out why the insults were happening, we didn't harm anybody. My husband slapped one of them and pushed another boy, that was all," the female defendant testified.
She also alleged that the children had greeted them with vulgar expressions when they walked into the park of the chateau. The children did not attend Monday's trial.
Through their attorney, the children are seeking a total of CZK 300 000 [EUR 11 755] from the couple for non-pecuniary damages, pain and suffering. The incident sparked tensions in Lipník nad Bečvou when police initially assessed the incident as a mere misdemeanor.
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