Czech youth who fired gas pistol at demonstration given 200 hours of community service
Jiří Borovička, who fired a gas pistol into the air during an anti-immigration demonstration this past February in Prague, was convicted of rioting and sentenced last week to 200 hours of community service and forfeiture of the weapon. The 21-year-old laborer has accepted the sentence and will not appeal, but the state prosecutor is still considering whether to appeal.
The event at which Borovička fired the weapon took place on Loretánské Square, was organized by the ultra-right National Democracy group, and was attended by roughly 600 people. Borovička was brought before the District Court in Prague on 19 April.
The charge was that of rioting. The incident took place on 6 February.
Borovička stood on a staircase next to Adam B. Bartoš during the demonstration and, according to the verdict, fired his weapon at least eight times, shouting "The Knights of Blaník are ready!" Prague 1 District Court Judge Vlasta Langhamerová said when handing down the verdict that "It must have been absolutely apparent to the defendant that the use of a weapon, even a gas pistol, in such a space is actually unacceptable. He could have injured somebody or the noise could have led to actions and reactions with far more serious consequences."
The youth, who faced up to two years in prison, defended himself without a lawyer. "I'm here for the first time in my life and I hope for the last," he testified.
Borovička described how he acquired the weapon one week prior to the demonstration near a gas station in Dobřichovice, where an acquaintance sold it to him for CZK 1 000 (EUR 37). He asserted that he bought the pistol for personal protection.
"Anything can happen, I know what goes on around Prague, and I live alone," he explained. He claimed to constantly carry the weapon, which is why he had it with him for the right-wing radical march.
"I just wanted to look at the reunion. I knew it was a demonstration for our culture and a safe country," he testified.
"At the time it seemed like an appropriate idea, I was a bit stressed out," he said when asked why he began to fire the weapon. He said he was nervous because he had never stood in front of so many people before.
"I think I aimed into the air. It was a gas pistol, nothing comes out of the barrel, the charge flies out the side," he said when the judge asked whether he had been afraid he might injure somebody.
After committing the act, Borovička turned himself in to police officers at the scene. The court, when setting punishment, acceded to the proposal of State Prosecutor Jan Sklenář.
The prosecution pointed out that in Borovička's case there was a slight tipping of the scales in favor of mitigating circumstances because he had a clean criminal record and had expressed regret for his actions. On the other hand, the aggravating circumstance for the youth was that he had fired the weapon in front of a large number of people.
Borovička is currently on disability as a result of injuries sustained during a traffic accident. He told the court that he will still be able to perform community service.
From photographs and videos taken during the demonstration, however, it is clear that the youth stuck by Adam B. Bartoš during the entire event. Moreover, at the moment when Borovička pulled the weapon out of his briefcase and fired the first shots, it was apparent that some of those giving speeches, including Bartoš, were not at all startled by the deafening shots.
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