Czech Police given suspended sentences along with civilian who beat Romani youth and threatened to kill him
Yesterday a court in the Czech Republic handed down three suspended sentences against the perpetrators of an assault on a Romani youth that happened at the end of January 2015 and was first reported by news server Romea.cz. The trial did not prove that the two defendants who were police officers were responsible for the attack, but did punish them for merely observing the behavior of the third defendant who perpetrated the violence.
News server iDNES.cz has reported that the court's verdict has yet to take effect. Police officer Jiří Krátký was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, for abusing the powers of a public official, while officer Ondřej Kurfürst got a 12-month sentence suspended for 15 months.
The third defendant, attacker Tomáš Kubišta, was found guilty of extortion and rioting and got a 12-month sentence suspended for 24 months. Judge Petra Benešová also banned the police officers from working for either local, military or state police while they are on probation.
Everyone involved has appealed. The plaintiff has not yet made a statement about the verdict.
Romani youth: I was terror-stricken, they told me to say my last good-byes
The incident happened in the late night hours of 29 January 2015 and the early morning hours of 30 January 2015 at the Hloubětín housing estate. The youth, Nicolas Kurej, had been at a residential hotel with his 16-year-old girlfriend, where they had rented a room for the night.
At midnight someone banged on the door to the room and announced "Police, open up!" Nicolas opened the door and saw three men in the corridor, only two of whom were wearing police uniforms, and the mother of his girlfriend, who proceeded to drag her daughter out of the bedroom.
Nicolas was left in the room by himself with the man not wearing a police uniform, Tomáš Kubišta. "Before they left, one of the officers said to him 'Make sure there's no blood'," Nicolas told news server Romea.cz last year.
Kubišta then grabbed Nicolas by the hair and threw him on the bed. "He kept asking me where I had the gold. I began calling for help," Nicolas described.
The two uniformed men are said to have then re-entered the room, followed by the mother with her daughter, who was crying and terrified. Nicolas alleges that one of the officers then punched him in the abdomen.
State Prosecutor Ladislav Stahl also described Kubišta as having held a knife to the youth's throat while trying to get him to admit to having stolen something gold. That allegation was the basis of the extortion charge.
The violence did not end at the residential hotel, however. Once they were outside the facility, the girl involved had attempted to explain to her mother that it was she who had taken the gold chain in question, but by then the police had already put their Romani suspect into their vehicle and taken away his identification.
Nicolas was unwell after the blows to his abdomen and asked the officers to call an ambulance. "I felt sick and asked them for medical aid, but they just laughed. What's more, they began talking about going into the forest and said I should say my last goodbyes to this life. By then I was actually terrified," Nicolas told news server Romea.cz last year.
Instead, however, the officers drove him to the outlying location of Zálužská Street. "The officers drove the victim to the cemetery in Hloubětín, and Kubišta arrived there separately. Kubišta and Krátký dragged him from the vehicle and Kubišta assaulted him with punches and kicks as he was prone on the ground," Stahl told news server iDNES.cz.
"They grabbed me by my sweatshirt, below my neck, and dragged me out of the police car. I shouted at them to leave me alone and did my best to hold on to the back of the seat in front of me, but he was much stronger than me, and suddenly I was lying on the ground next to the car," Nicolas said.
The man without a uniform, whose fists were reportedly wrapped up in some kind of fabric, punched Nicolas in the head, kicked him, and even stomped on his abdomen. The beating included racist verbal abuse as well.
All of this was passively watched by the mother of the girl involved and by the police officers. The young man suffered injuries to the right side of his head, lost blood, and had a black eye.
After a while he got himself together and, with his remaining strength, ran through a wooded area towards the metro station and tram stop, where he saw two local police officers and described to them what had happened to him. They did not, however, show any interest in aiding him, so he had no choice but to catch the next tram and go home.
They attacked me because my girlfriend's mother didn't want her daughter going out with a Rom
Nicolas believes that the mother of the young woman who is now his ex-girlfriend was behind the brutal assault. Apparently she did not want her daughter going out with a Romani youth.
When the mother ascertained that her daughter had taken a gold chain of hers and was supposed to be spending the night with Nicolas outside the house, she took advantage of a contact of her own boyfriend (according to information obtained by ROMEA, the mother's boyfriend is a former police officer) who then raised the alarm with two members of the police force in the Černý Most neighborhood of Prague. The attorney for the officers, however, asserts that nothing of the sort happened.
The officers' explanation of events is that they just drove their car to the cemetery to have a cigarette. "It has not been proven that the events took place as the plaintiff alleges. He is considered an unreliable person who keeps changing his testimony," the officers' attorney, Michal Korčák, told iDNES.cz.
Korčák asserts that the other two local officers at the tram stop recall seeing the Romani youth, but say he had no visible injuries and did not want any aid. "This entire affair is being dragged out by witnesses' false testimonies, including from persons who are supposed to be unbiased," Judge Benešová stated in her justification for her decision, according to iDNES.cz.
The judge pointed to inconsistencies in several testimonies in her verdict. She also said it had taken a disproportionately lengthy time for the police to investigate the case.
"These officers did not realize what their obligations are," she said. All of the defendants assert their innocence and claim the Romani youth has invented the story of the attack.
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