Vítkov trial: neo-Nazis met at Workers’ Party demonstrations
The Vítkov arson trial entered its sixth day at the Regional Court in Ostrava today with testimony from other witnesses on the agenda, including a volunteer firefighter who significantly contributed to the apprehension of the neo-Nazi perpetrators. Friends of the defendants and neighbors of the victims were also scheduled to testify. Anna Siváková and Pavel Kudrik, the parents of burn victim Natálie, are scheduled to testify Thursday. Siváková will be present in court, which means her daughter will miss a therapy session.
Witness Milan Navrátil, an acquaintance of defendant Jaromír Lukeš, was summoned to testify at 9:15 AM. Navrátil said he has known Lukeš since elementary school and learned of the fire when he saw the news on television. Lukeš has helped him paint his apartment and perform other repairs. They did not discuss the fire much and never discussed who might have started it. During his testimony, Navrátil began to feel ill and had to leave the stand. An associate judge then read his initial testimony to police into the record and Navrátil said he agreed with it.
Another witness who knows Lukeš, Pavel Karola, said Lukeš organized a concert of skinhead groups in his place of residence, the village of Radkov near Vítkov. Karola said he knew the house in Vítkov that had been attacked and had seen Romani children playing outside it.
Another of Lukeš’s friends, Tomáš Janča, refused to testify and requested reimbursement for costs incurred. The court read his initial testimony to police into the record. Janča had known Lukeš for about a year and went with him for beer together with their other friends about three times a week. He found out about the attack on the internet. When he met Lukeš at a Workers’ Party demonstration in Brno, he asked him what he knew about it, but Lukeš did not say anything to him about it.
Another witness, Eduard Valášek also refused to testify. His original testimony to police was also read into the record. According to that testimony, Lukeš was the only defendant he knew. News server Novinky.cz reported that when Valášek was asked whether he had threatened other witnesses, he denied the charges.
R. M., who was alleged to be Lukeš’s lover, testified that she knew the house of the Romani family in Vítkov that was attacked. "I live about a kilometer from the house that burned down. I drove past it on my way to school and to work. A Romani family lived there. Their children were usually outside by the road," M. told the court. She said she and Lukeš had never discussed the house and that she never discussed the fire with him because she had last seen him prior to the attack. When investigators asked whether Lukeš knew the house, M. said: "Jarek never mentioned that place, but I believe he knew it.” When asked by the judge whether she agreed with the detailed version of her testimony originally given to police, M. said she did.
Two other friends of Lukeš, Zuzana Osadníková and her friend Žaneta Falharová, refused to testify. Threats to both girls were posted by neo-Nazis on the web pages of the Autonomous Nationalists during the investigation.
The court read Osadníková’s initial testimony to police into the record. She testified that Lukeš disliked “Gypsies”. She and Lukeš usually went out for beer together. "He wanted to go out with me, he told me he loved me," news server Novinky.cz quoted the witness as testifying. She sometimes met with Lukeš’s friends, who also made no secret of their hatred for Roma. "I told them I have nothing against Gypsies, but they convinced me that only their opinions about Gypsies were the right ones,” she told police. Prior to the attack, Lukeš phoned her to say they would not see one another that evening. She asked him if they were going after “Gypsies”, and told investigators, “He said yes, they were going after Gypsies.” She learned about the arson attack in Vítkov the next day on the internet. Her friend Žaneta then wrote her a message asking whether Lukeš had done it. "I wrote her that it was possible, that I would call him, but he said he knew nothing about it and asked me what happened, as if he didn’t know." Lukeš later allegedly told her he would never have done anything like that because his daughter was the same age as Natálka.
Lukeš then told the court he was reconsidering whether to testify. The other defendants maintained their silence.
The court then read out the initial testimony of witness Žaneta Falharová, who told police she had overheard Osadníková talking with Lukeš on the phone. The girls then discussed the call. A volunteer firefighter overheard their conversation, realized it was related to the Vítkov fire, and reported everything to police. Although originally scheduled to testify today, he will testify tomorrow, as he requested the defendants not be present. Tomorrow the defendants will not be in the courtroom while the mother of the burn victim testifies.
After a half-hour recess, another acquaintance of Lukeš’s, Václav Jindra, took the stand just before noon. He refused to testify. The court read his initial testimony to police into the record, which stated that Lukeš had confided in him about the attack, telling him that he had been the driver. "I have nothing to do with it, I had no idea such a thing was being planned,” Jindra told police.
At the close of today’s hearing, David Vaculík’s attorney asked if his client could be granted permission to skip the entirety of tomorrow’s hearing. Vaculík’s finger is allegedly infected and causing him pain. The judge requested a doctor’s report.
- Czech Agency for Social Inclusion accuses paper of anti-Romani campaign
- Help Romea.cz win support from Vodafone
- Czech Republic and "gypsies" - 1938 vs. 2012
- Czech Republic: Equal Opportunities Party to protest local-level anti-Romani moves
- Czech mayor: Romani people face lynching unless rape suspect taken into custody
- Czech municipality gets tough on Ostrava ghetto residents again
- Czech Republic: Proud Romani students in IT, medicine, and natural sciences
- Prosecutor: Czechs started last year's brawl with Romani people in Rumburk
- Roma Pride 2012 marches through the center of Prague
- Czech Republic: 70 ultra-rightists march on Romani neighborhood
- Czech Republic: Project commemorates postwar Romani labor
- European experts compare experiences working in socially excluded localities