Court rules anti-Roma attack not racially motivated|
Radio Prague, November 23rd - The District Court in the town of Trebic has reached a verdict in the case
of 12 men who attacked a hamlet near the town of Trebic in South
Moravia inhabited mostly by Romani families. But, as Olga Szantova
reports, the verdict will be wearily familiar to those following the
prosecution of racist crimes in the Czech Republic.
Imagine a warm August night suddenly interrupted by 12 men
throwing stones and bricks at a group of houses, breaking lights
and windows, hitting one of the inhabitants in the head and
wounding several others. They shout insults such as 'Come out,
you black bastards', 'We're going to smash your faces in,'
'We're going to set fire to your houses', and 'Gypsies to the gas
The attack lasted about an hour, but it took the Trebic court a
year and three months to hand out suspended sentences of
between four months and two years with three years' probation.
The reason for such low sentences? Well, the court heard, the
owner of the building had been trying to make them move out
for some time. He promised his son and some of his friends a
pig and two barrels of beer for scaring the tenants off.
The attack ran out of control somehow, spreading out against
all the Roma living in the hamlet. The men attacked people as
they tried to run away and hide in the forest. But, the court
ruled, it was not a case of racially motivated extortion, just a
case of hooliganism, damaging private property and assault.
Only the last was considered to be racially motivated. The
victims expressed their disappointment over the verdict, but to
the general public it did not come as much of a surprise.
Similar verdicts are frequent in the Czech Republic, and human
rights activists say these inadequate punishments are not
helping to curb racially motivated crime. And no plans to help
the integration of minorities can really succeed before that is
In June the cabinet did approve a long-term plan for the
integration of the Czech Republic's Roma minority. It is a
general strategy for the next twenty years and deals with all the
main issues faced by the Roma, and not only the Roma
minority. These include: doing away with all existing forms of
discrimination and handicaps in education as well as in chances
of achieving higher qualifications.
The plan also deals with achieving equality for the Roma,
including the creation of a democratic Roma representative
body, and with support for the Roma culture and language. And,
above all, providing protection against racist attacks, which
does not only concern the police, but the treatment of the
Roma minority by the Czech court system as well.