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State prosecutor says racial motivation cannot be proven in Bedřiška arson

Ostrava, 24.4.2010 14:09, (ROMEA)

Yesterday police officially confirmed that they have charged a woman and her minor son with attempted murder in connection with the arson attack on the home of a Romani family in the Bedřiška settlement of Ostrava. The accused are neighbors of the victims. Both remain in custody. If convicted, the woman faces up to life in prison while the youth faces between five and 10 years. Detectives said the crime was motivated by a dispute between the neighbors.

"We have not succeeded in proving racial motivation and I presume we will not,” state prosecutor Brigita Bilíková said. She went on to say that police have sufficient evidence to qualify the crime as attempted murder and that those charged had been aware of the potential results of their behavior.

However, the Romani neighbors of the pair have a different impression of them and are quoted on the news server Tn.cz as saying that the woman associated with extremists and claimed to be a racist. A witness described one of the men who visited the alleged perpetrators as follows: "He was taller than me, tattooed on the left side, and dressed in camouflage. He looked 100 % like a skinhead because his head was shaved.” Dušan Podraný, whose family was the target of the arson, is quoted as saying: "She herself said she was a racist, that she does not like Gypsies.”

Police detained the woman, her partner, her two sons and the woman’s brother early in the morning on Wednesday. They were all taken from their home to the station in handcuffs. The other three members of the family were later released. Bilíková says that for the time being she does not presume any other accomplices will be charged.

Arsonists attacked the single-family home in the settlement during the early morning hours of Sunday 14 March. A Molotov cocktail crashed through the window of a bedroom in which a 13-year-old girl was sleeping. The bottle did not shatter, so the contents – ether, one of the most dangerous combustibles – never caught fire. Part of the carpet caught fire from the wick, but the girl, who was awakened by the breaking glass, managed to put it out.

Detectives have determined where the accused got the ether but did not want to comment, saying only that the pair had concealed the combustible in their home just before using it. "We did not find any ether when we searched the house after arresting the suspects,” detective Josef Kubánek said. Detectives have also ruled out the idea that the victims would have somehow staged the attack themselves.

Bilíková says the mother and her son are cooperating with the authorities. Police do not want to comment as to whether they have confessed. Officers are said to have found biological and material evidence against them at the crime scene.

ČTK, František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, fk, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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