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Molotov cocktail used in Bedřiška attack contained lab solvent

Ostrava, 25.3.2010 16:53, (Czech Press Agency)

The results of a police investigation have confirmed that the Molotov cocktail used during the attack on a Romani family’s home in the Bedřiška settlement of Ostrava contained diethylether, a highly flammable solvent used in laboratories. Soňa Štětínská, spokesperson for the Moravian-Silesian Police, informed the Czech Press Agency of the findings today.

A still-unidentified assailant threw the Molotov cocktail into the Romani family’s home on 14 March. The bottle did not break and its contents did not catch fire. Police say the burning wick was put out by the girl who was sleeping in the room where the bottle landed. "We had already ruled out gasoline or a gasoline mixture in the bottle. Specialists who analyzed the contents of the bottle have confirmed it contained diethylether," Štětínská said.

Diethylether (as well as ether or ethoxyethan) is a common laboratory solvent. Under normal conditions it is a clear, colorless, extremely flammable fluid with a low boiling point and a characteristically sweet odor.

The arsonist or arsonists attacked the single-family home in the settlement during the early morning hours of Sunday 14 March. The Molotov cocktail containing a highly flammable liquid broke through the window of a room in which a teenage girl was sleeping. The bottle did not break and the chemicals inside it did not catch fire. Part of the rug caught fire from the wick. The girl, who was awoken by the broken glass, managed to put out the fire.

Police officers are investigating the attack as attempted murder. The attack was originally investigated as reckless endangerment. While general reckless endangerment carries a sentence of from three to eight years, attempted murder carries a sentence from between 15 to 20 years or even an extraordinary sentence.

Police are continuing to investigate several possible motives for the attack, which could have been related to the victims’ business dealings or interpersonal relationships. Racial motivation is still under consideration, as is the possibility the attack was random.

Last April arsonists attacked the home of a Romani family in Vítkov, injuring three people. The most seriously injured was little Natálka, who was not quite two years old at the time she suffered extensive second and third-degree burns over 80 % of her body.

The trial of the four right-wing extremists from the Bruntál and Opava districts charged with the Vítkov arson will begin at the Regional Court in Ostrava on 11 May. The men have been charged with committing racially motivated attempted murder against multiple victims, one of whom was a child. They face up to 15 years in prison but could also receive extraordinary sentencing, including life in prison.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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