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Czech NATO soldier charged with fraud, promoting Nazism was convicted of similar charge in 1990s

Teplice, 15.6.2011 14:50, (ROMEA)

The case of Hynek Matonoha is heading to court in Teplice. The former soldier from Teplice wore the shield of a Nazi SS division on his helmet while participating in a NATO mission in Afghanistan. A criminal investigation has also determined that he defrauded the Czech Army of more than CZK 181 000. Matonoha, who is unemployed after his army discharge, faces up to three years in prison. "He is charged with altering public documents, counterfeit, fraud, and promoting and supporting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms," Judge Miroslav Čapek told news server iDNES.cz.

Matonoha, a member of the 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, "decorated" his helmet in 2009 during a mission to the Afghan province of Logar. The shield of crossed grenades exactly corresponds to the shield worn by the 36th Grenade Division of the Nazi SS Dirlewanger. During the Second World War, members of this division were infamous even among other fighting units of the Nazi Wehrmacht and SS for their cruelty. They looted, murdered and raped civilians when fighting against partisans in Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine. The Czech daily Mladá fronta DNES drew attention to Matonoha's case two years ago.

Matonoha told police he had no idea what the sign meant. "When I arrived on base in Afghanistan I found it in the barracks among some papers. I liked it, so I put it on my gear because I needed a way to mark my things so I could recognize them in case we were attacked. Most of the soldiers on the mission did the same," he told journalists.

It is doubtful the defendant did not know the meaning of the symbol, which is currently favored by the neo-Nazi scene. Matonoha, who was very interested in the history of the Second World War when growing up and collected military objects, was convicted of promoting Nazism in 1996.

At the age of 19, Matonoha punched another youth in the head while wearing brass knuckles and then proceeded to give the Nazi salute and shout "Sieg Heil" on the streets of Unčín. He told police he was a member of the skinhead movement and that his aim was for Bohemia to belong to the Czech nation. The court in Teplice gave him a six-month suspended sentence, which was officially erased from his record after one year's probation. He was then able to join the Army with a "clean" criminal record.

Matonoha, who also did a stint with the French Foreign Legion, allegedly decorated his uniform with a Nazi skull symbol while working in Kosovo. He was dishonorably discharged from the Army in November 2009 after the Czech press reported his case.

A subsequent investigation determined he had also defrauded the Army. In July 2008 he submitted a false high school diploma to human resources, thanks to which he was promoted from the rank of technical sergeant to that of sub-warrant officer. Instead of driving and working in the warehouse, he became the commissary of the engineer's platoon, earning a higher salary, benefits, and bonuses for his rank and for holding command. The lawsuit claims he fraudulently earned a total of CZK 181 625. Matonoha refused to make a statement to police about this charge.

František Bikár, Gwendolyn Albert, iDNES.cz, Mf DNES, brf, http://usti.idnes.cz/vojakovi-ktery-nosil-v-afghanistanu-znaky-ss-hrozi-tri-roky-vezeni-1p8-/usti-zpravy.aspx?c=A110614_170043_usti-zpravy_oks, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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