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December 5, 2020

 

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Slovak court finally rules on brutal assault by neo-Nazis seven years ago in Nitra, they appeal

31.5.2020 9:24
Neo-Nazis attacking the Mariatchi Bar in Nitra, Slovakia in 2013 were filmed by local police CCTV cameras. Still from the video footage.
Neo-Nazis attacking the Mariatchi Bar in Nitra, Slovakia in 2013 were filmed by local police CCTV cameras. Still from the video footage.

A district court has pronounced its verdict in the case of a bloody assault committed in front of the Mariatchi Bar in Nitra, Slovakia in 2013. The neo-Nazi attackers were captured on CCTV kicking their victims in the head; the court has now sent four of them to prison for several years, while one has gotten away with a suspended sentence.

Brutality of the neo-Nazis

In October 2013, neo-Nazis from the nearby Walhala Club entered the Mariatchi Bar in the center of Nitra. They began provoking people there and then wanted to buy cigarettes.

When the servers refused to sell them cigarettes, the neo-Nazis began to loudly object and refused to leave even after the owner asked them to. Customers in the bar pushed them outside, but the extremists then returned with reinforcements.

Bar owner Radovan Richtárik went outside to stop the extremists. "I wanted to tell them to forget about it, but they didn't wait to take action," he said.

The neo-Nazis began to immediately beat up the owner and several customers. Once their victims fell to the ground, they brutally stomped on them and kicked others mercilessly in the face and head.

A barmaid did her best to drive away the neo-Nazis who were jumping on a man who was lying unconscious on the sidewalk when another assailant slapped her. Three people suffered different kinds of injuries during the attack.

A local police CCTV camera captured the entire incident. "At the main hearing the verdict was pronounced in the name of the Republic of Slovakia, finding all five defendants guilty," the spokesperson for the court in Nitra, Patrícia Mišovič, told Slovakia's TA3 television station.

Mišovič also said one of the defendants had just committed the offense of rioting, for which he was sentenced to one year in prison, conditionally suspended for two years. The defendant will be supervised by probation officers for a period of time.

"The other four defendants committed the offense of rioting as a single act together with attempted battery, for which they have been given prison sentences of between four and five years," the court spokesperson said. The verdict has yet to take effect and the defendants' attorney has already appealed.

Controversial decisions 

The case involves several controversial decisions. The length of the court proceedings is incomprehensible - why did a case with such conclusive evidence take seven years to yield a first-instance verdict?

Police accused seven men of being involved in the beginning. Of course, even that did not happen until almost four months after the incident and criticism by some media outlets, despite detectives having the local police CCTV footage available, the testimonies of those directly involved, and knowing the identities of the perpetrators.

The District Prosecutor in Nitra did not take the accused into custody after the police announced the suspects, but allowed the thugs to remain at large. Three of the same men from the Walhala Club were therefore able to attack the very same bar on 1 January 2014.

The rioting neo-Nazis broke the windows of the property and the owner did his best to photograph them. They assaulted him and broke his leg.

Police accused the perpetrators of the crime but did not see a racist subtext to it. Perpetrator Ján Ďurova was convicted in August 2017 and sent to prison for six and a half years by the Regional Court in Nitra.

That appeals venue upheld the first-instance court's decision in that matter. Of course, the other two assailants were never charged.

Kotleba and Walhala

The assailants had been assembling prior to both of these attacks in the Walhala Club, which is a private "gentlemen's card club" a stone's throw from the Mariatchi Bar across the street; the club only opens on Saturday evening and is for members only. According to Richtárik, about 30 members used to assemble there regularly, perhaps more if there was a birthday celebration or MMA match on.

Club members have created a closed Facebook group for themselves; its profile photograph is a drawing of two skinheads shaking hands with the flag of Slovakia in the background. One of the skinheads has the acronym for the international neo-Nazi network Combat 18 tattooed on his neck.

The group is administered by four people, three of whom have previously run during the parliamentary elections on the candidate list of the fascist "People's Party Our Slovakia" (LSNS), chaired by Marián Kotleba. Jakub Škrabák is also an administrator of the group, the former boss of the fascist party "Slovak Solidarity" (Slovenská pospolitost) which Kotleba led previously as well.

That party was dissolved by the court for its aggressive extremism. Of the Walhala Club Facebook page administrators who have run for the LSNS, Škrabák is the only one not local to Nitra.

Škrabák ran for the LSNS in 2010 and 2012. The other two previous candidates for the LSNS are from Nitra.

Anton Baťovský and Dušan Sobolič were among the activists with the neo-Nazi National Resistance group (Národní odpor) and Baťovský has that organization's name tattoed on his back. Both ran as candidates for Kotleba's party in 2010.

Nitra has been the scene of many extremist attacks; for example, in 2008, National Resistance thugs assaulted young people in front of the Old Theater there. In the past, the neo-Nazis organized a "March against Drugs" on the anniversary of the founding of the fascist Slovak State, which collaborated with Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

František Kostlán, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Extremism, Hate violence, Neo-Nazism, Police



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