Czech court reopens case against accused neo-Nazis that has lasted more than a decade
On 15 April the District Court for Prague 1 returned to the protracted case of eight people charged with promoting neo-Nazism by supporting the "National Resistance" (Národní odpor - NO) group; three of the accused appeared in court and all pled "not guilty" once more. The prosecution had originally been halted by the court for having dragged on so long, a decision that was then upheld by the Regional Court in Prague, but both of those rulings were then overturned on appeal by the Supreme Court in March of 2020.
Michaela Dupová, Patrik Vondrák, Richard Lang, Milan Hroch, Martin Václavek, Daniel Zavadil, Petr Fryč and Filip Vávra have been accused of promoting and supporting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms and face up to eight years in prison if convicted. The lower courts have been dealing with the case since 2010, and the Supreme Court decision to overturn the halting of the prosecution said it is necessary to reflect the disproportionate length of the proceedings in the verdict, should the accused be convicted.
The indictment describes four crimes including, for example, posting the neo-Nazi NO's promotional materials on 4 December 2008 in the center of Prague, as well as organizing and then holding an assembly and march on 6 June 2009 in Jihlava. A municipal official immediately ended that event once it began.
The Jihlava event had been announced as a commemorative march to honor the memories of victims of the Second World War. Its actual purpose, however, was to honor the memories of fallen Wehrmacht soldiers and members of the SS, according to the case file.
Other crimes described in the indictment concerned creating and running the Resistance Women Unity (RWU) website, which police say was the women's branch of the NO. The final charge involved producing a concert of what is called "white power music" in February 2009 in the village of Srby in the Kladno area.
Dupová, Lang and Fryč all expressed their views of the length of the proceeding, among other matters, during their court appearance last week. Dupová said that during the 11 years the proceeding has lasted a great deal has changed for her personally, but she still insists she is innocent of the charges.
"This entire situation is outrageous," she told the court. Lang pointed out that the prosecution has impacted both his personal and professional life, comparing the proceedings to the persecution of the Charter 77 signatories during the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.
Lang denied having participated in pasting up the promotional materials in Prague, but admitted to having participated in the Jihlava march, noting that the exact same event had been held prior to that occasion and nobody had been prosecuted for attending its previous instances. During the last 11 years Lang claimed that his opinions have shifted and called his participation in the event a reflection of the opinions of his youth.
"I can tell you with a clear conscience and a pure heart that I have already given myself the hardest punishment," Lang testified. As for Fryč, he told the court he is not guilty and that the ongoing prosecution has disrupted his personal life.
The judge recapped the previous testimonies of the other defendants, all of whom previously claimed they were not guilty. She then read the expert witness statements into the record and submitted documentary evidence to all the parties.
Dupová then announced she would be demanding that all of the documentary evidence be read into the record. The main trial is currently scheduled for the end of June.
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