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Romani woman murdered in Prague, locals allege perpetrators are Nazis

Prague, 10.1.2012 2:16, (ROMEA)
Passers-by found the woman's corpse last week in a small wooded area in Prague's Žižkov quarter. (PHOTO:  Repro Nova TV)

Three youths who have recently confessed to murdering a Romani woman in the Prague 3 district of Jarov were not first-time offenders but had previously assaulted a homeless couple not far from a trail that leads from a local housing estate there into a wooded area. Local residents say the youths did not attack homeless people only, but basically anyone they felt like targeting.

"All three of them are young guys who have been getting ready to do something like this ever since they were little. It doesn't even really surprise me. The oldest assailant is from a broken home and his mother evidently couldn't manage him. He's done whatever he wanted. Everyone knew they had been in conflicts with the homeless people. A year ago they threw stones at them. One of them is also part of a group that attacked me when my wife and I were out for a walk," a local resident told news server Romea.cz, who did not want his name published out of fear for his safety.

Other homeless people in the area confirmed the frequent assaults, openly describing the attackers as sympathizers of right-wing extremist movements who have been giving the Nazi salute in the streets. Another local resident also confirms that claim. "They attacked me when I was walking my dog. They sit on the benches here. There are always between two to six of them. They drink cheap wine there. I know they sometimes made racist remarks. Once my neighbor and I walked past them and my neighbor was playing music on his mobile phone. They immediately started assaulting us, they even threatened to punch me. I defended myself verbally, as I instruct my students to do. One of them was older and more heavy-set, the others were younger and smaller. I went to elementary school with one of them, they attended the remedial classes. In my opinion they're just stupid Nazi wannabes," the man told Romea.cz.

"Homeless people are classic victims of hate violence. They are assaulted for who they are, for their social status as outsiders. Hate violence against the homeless community is becoming more and more frequent. In many cases such attacks are unusually brutal. The perpetrators are usually 'on a mission', people who consider their attack against homeless people to be not just justifiable, but welcome, performed to benefit society as a whole," Klára Kalibová of the In IUSTITIA organization, which provides legal aid to hate violence victims, told news server Romea.cz.

"From a legal point of view, an attack on a homeless person can be perceived as aggravated assault. People living without shelter generally have a very difficult time accessing justice. They don't know what their rights are, they don't trust the justice system or the police, they are afraid the perpetrators will revenge any complaints, they can't afford legal aid. Nevertheless, anyone whose health is harmed as the result of a crime or who suffers either immaterial or material damages can seek justice against the perpetrators," Kalibová said.

Tomáš Hulan, spokesperson for the Prague Police, said the youths explained their attack as the result of a dispute with the homeless people that had gone on for several weeks. Two of the three youths are charged with felony attempted grievous bodily harm and rioting. The third has been charged with committing murder in such a particularly harrowing way that he is the only one to have been remanded into custody. The main perpetrator kicked and punched the woman, mainly in her head, before stabbing her with a knife.

If convicted, the murderer could be sent to prison for anywhere between 15 and 20 years, or potentially for life. The other two involved in the incident face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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