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Police found car from Vítkov they were looking for, but its occupants did not commit the arson

Ostrava, 27.5.2009 17:16, (ROMEA)

Detectives investigating the April arson attack on a single-family home occupied by a Roma family in Vítkov na Opavsku have found the dark car that witnesses say drove down the street just before the fire broke out. Police officers also know the names of the people sitting in the car at the time, but there are no indications that they had anything to do with the arson attack. Police are still searching for the perpetrators, North Moravian police spokesperson Soňa Štětínská told ČTK today.

"Thanks to citizens' testimonies we have found the dark vehicle that drove past the house at the time of the fire and we have determined who was inside it. However, a detailed verification of their statements did not turn up any connection to the crime," the police spokesperson explained, adding that detectives have no information that would either confirm or refute various scenarios regarding the arson. The possibilities under consideration are a racially motivated attack, a personal dispute, or an alleged attempt by loan sharks to collect money from the injured father of the family.

For the time being the police officers have only ruled out the idea that the family itself set the house on fire. "On the basis of our search of the crime scene, including the securing of evidence, detectives have refuted that scenario," Štětínská said, adding that the arson attack is also not related to a tragic traffic accident that occurred in front of the house this February when a pedestrian walking across the road was struck dead by the driver of an oncoming vehicle. "We know of no connection between the arson attack and that accident. Those involved in the accident have no reason to want to revenge themselves on the family," she said.

Detectives have contacted and interrogated approximately 500 people who had or might have information about the case. Detectives interrogated people who were in personal contact with the family in the past or who worked with them. They have spoken with the family's acquaintances, relatives, and even interrogated the bus driver who usually drives through Vítkov.

About 40 people have contacted police officers with information. "Some of that information was general, other information very specific. Nevertheless, the perpetrators have still not been found even after verifying the detailed tips," Štětínská said, adding that even a psychic who contacted detectives did not have much to offer. The man provided information about possible attackers, who in his opinion were from the Bruntál district. "The information he provided was general," the police spokesperson said.

Arsonists attacked the home of the nine-member Roma family during the early morning hours of 19 April, throwing three Molotov cocktails filled with gasoline into the house. Three people were injured during the subsequent blaze, two-year-old Natálka the most seriously. The child suffered second and third degree burns over 80 % of her body and is still in the care of doctors at the burn centre of the Ostrava Teaching Hospital.

Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, CTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Czech republic, Extremism, Neo-Nazism, Žhářský útok ve Vítkově, Vítkov



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