Scandalous fourth acquittal by Czech court of racist football fans accused of assaulting Black man on tram
The District Court for Prague 10 ruled yesterday, in a verdict that has yet to take effect, that it is the local municipal department, not the courts, that should adjudicate the behavior of three football fans accused of assaulting a dark-skinned man on a Prague tram because the judge is convinced the prosecutor has not proven who attacked the victim and therefore believes it possible that the three Olomouc football fans can at most be charged with misdemeanors for their behavior on the tram. The attorney for the injured party has called the court's decision scandalous.
This was the fourth time the court had been instructed by the supervising appeals venue to review the case. Judge Ivana Hynková has repeatedly acquitted the three young defendants, stating that while the attack did happen, the indictment has not proven by whom.
The judge's previous three acquittals were overturned by the appeals court. The prosecutor will now send the case back for appeal a fourth time.
"I am of the opinion that the presiding judge in this court simply does not not want to convict these defendants," Prosecutor Markéta Mizerová told journalists after the hearing ended yesterday, adding that she would be appealing. "I am convinced these defendants perpetrated this crime and that we have enough evidence to prove it, and I will keep fighting."
Petra Vytejčková, attorney for the injured party, said: "This decision is absolutely scandalous. The lower court is absolutely disrespecting the decisions of the supervising venue."
"Instructions were absolutely clearly and explicitly delivered to the first instance court," Vytejčková said. "The injured party was traveling by himself on the tram, many people assaulted him, and he was able to recognize the attackers afterward."
According to this fourth verdict, however, the three young defendants' behavior should be adjudicated by the local municipality because the judge said the trio and the other fans had been singing football anthems and chanting slogans in support of the Sigma Olomouc football club on the tram and then scuffling among themselves. "The court has concluded that this behavior should be handled within the framework of a misdemeanor proceedings," she said.
The behavior of the fans on the tram had been inappropriate, in her view. "Displays of fandom do not belong among ordinary citizens, they belong inside the football stadium," the judge ruled.
The defendants and other fans rode the tram on 4 November 2017 to a match with the Bohemians club, based in Prague, and a computer programmer of African origin who lives in Prague was a passenger in the same car. According to the indictment, he first had to deal with racist insults from the fans, which he ignored.
"They shouted at him that he is a 'black mug', that he should 'go back to Africa', that he 'has no business being here' and that he is an 'ugly, dirty nigger'," the judge read from the charges into the record during the hearing. The racist assailants are then said to have thrown two lemons at him, after which one fan, according to the indictment, squeezed one of the lemons onto him.
The computer programmer did his best to defend himself, but some of the fans attacked him with punches and kicks. He ended up in surgery with a bruised head and nose and has post-traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of the incident.
The prosecutor is seeking a sentence of two and a half years in prison for two of the defendants and four years in prison for the third given that he has been convicted previously on charges of rioting and attempted battery. All three young men admitted to the court that an assault had been committed against the man on the tram but denied having participated in it.
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