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Romani man, paralyzed after neo-Nazi attack, has to learn to speak all over again

Ostrava, 21.10.2009 5:55, (ROMEA)

Yesterday at the Regional Court in Ostrava the proceedings against eight neo-Nazis charged with grievous bodily harm continued. The court heard testimony from defendants Karel Takáč, Michal Šebela, Libor Maceček, Martin Šebest, Josef Navrátil, Milan Kasl, Vlastislav Burda and an eighth defendant who is a minor. Since his name cannot therefore be publicized, Judge Lenka Čechová decided the proceedings would be closed.

While on Monday the court heard from the defendants, yesterday it was the turn of the victim, 17-year-old Jaroslav Horváth, to testify. His testimony was followed by that of his friend Petr Sivák, who succeeded in escaping the attack. Jaroslav Horváth told Romea.cz that prior to the assault the attackers shouted “We have to beat up this nigger” at him. Petr Sivák added that prior to the assailants driving up in their cars he and Horváth had been calmly standing on the sidewalk: "We were not doing anything that could have provoked anyone to attack us."

According to one of the eyewitnesses (who does not want to be named) the attack took place as reported yesterday by Romea.cz: "I saw three vehicles block off the entire street. Several people jumped out of them and started to chase the two Roma. After the attack they quickly got back in the cars and drove off. It looked like an organized action. I ran to the victim immediately to help. Horváth could not breathe or move properly and was completely confused – he could not even remember his own name. I called an ambulance and the police."

Horváth suffered serious brain injury as a result of the attack. "I had to learn to talk all over again," he told ČTK yesterday. The trial was the first time since the incident that he has met the people who attacked him face to face.

The victim does not remember much about the circumstances of the event. He could not recognize any of the alleged assailants. "They all were wearing balaclavas,” he said, adding that he was unable to walk in the aftermath of the attack. "I could not stand or talk. I did not talk for a month. Then I slowly started to learn to talk again. One of my arms is partially paralyzed,” the youth said.

The attack took place on the corner of Jarošova and Smetanova streets. Romea.cz has learned that the family living in the house closest to the attack also witnessed the entire thing. However, they have moved away after receiving threats that if they testified in court they would reap the consequences.

The victim’s father said his son was in a coma for several days after the attack: "When he came out of it, he was paralyzed on the right side of his body, he could not move his arm or his head, he could not talk. He underwent a long process of rehabilitation during which he exercised and learned to talk again, but to this day he cannot move his arm properly and he stammers. He cannot continue his studies in this state."

The defendants are not unknown to the police. ČTK reports they are all aggressive football hooligans or neo-Nazis. They allegedly belong to the Thugs Havířov group, one of the largest fan clubs of the Baník Ostrava football team. One of the defendants is also an active member of the neo-Nazi National Resistance.

The victim is represented by Mgr. Roman Krakovka, an attorney with the law offices of Miketa and Partners with financial support from ROMEA, o.s. The court proceedings will continue on 7 December 2009.

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, Markus Pape, Markus Pape, František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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