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October 23, 2021



Pavel Botoš: After the events in Žatec I will never return to the Czech Republic

24.10.2016 17:52
Pavel Botoš with the Mayor of Halifax, Howard Blagbrough, and his wife, receiving an award for
Pavel Botoš with the Mayor of Halifax, Howard Blagbrough, and his wife, receiving an award for "Contribution to Work and Training" in June 2016. (PHOTO: Personal archive of Pavel Botoš)

Not long ago I decided not to comment about some of the events that have been taking place in the Czech Republic anymore. I decided this because I have been living with my family abroad for a long time and some of the information that reaches me can be significantly biased.

After reading the first article about the death of the young man in the pizzeria in Žatec, however, I was on alert, because it immediately reminded me of an incident that involved the son of a friend of mine from Trebišov in eastern Slovakia. More infamous cases of a similar kind have happened since (e.g., in Kynšperk), but the one in Trebišov touched me the most because I personally knew the family.

I have read at least seven articles about this incident. I have also watched the video in which the eyewitness to the incident gives his testimony as well as the amateur video taken directly at the scene during the local police intervention.

Since Žatec is my home town, I contacted several friends through social networks and asked them for unbiased information about this mysterious, sad incident, about which there are still so many questions. I do not know whether this act was motivated by racism, I don't want to assert at any cost that it was, but I do claim that this was a killing, and I will stand by that assessment.

I believe a band of pumped-up young men who practice martial arts finally got an actual chance to show off in front of an audience, specifically, in front of the young women who allegedly were being bothered. In thousands of cases before this one, other people have managed to lead an individual who is drunk, high or schizophrenic away from others in order to pacify that person, and judicious ways to do this have stood the test of time.

Even somebody whose eyesight isn't the best, as it were, can tell there is something wrong with this picture. Of the many questions that come to mind, there are three to which I would most like to know the answer: First, what families do these alleged "fighters" come from, who are their parents?

Second, is it true that the CCTV cameras inside the pizzeria were not working at the time in question? Third, what relationships exist between the local cops who intervened and the band of "fighters", and how well did they all know each other?

I am just an ordinary person who keeps asking himself these questions, and I would like to know the answer to them. This is my fifth year living in Great Britain, and it is only natural that from time to time I miss my native country, my friends in the Czech Republic, and many ordinary things that I didn't give much significance to before leaving the country, but that I do value today - and I have also experienced days when I have thought about returning.

During the past five years, however, a great deal of verified information has reached me about the growing hatred toward Romani people in the Czech Republic, and each time I hear such news, I have to pat myself on the back for managing to emigrate and stand on my own two feet somewhere else. This sad case has shaken me to such a degree that I will no longer consider returning.

Pavel Botoš, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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