The issue of race relations and attacks on the Roma minority by Neo Nazi skinheads is a tense and emotional one in the Czech Republic. The decision by a court in Eastern Moravia on Thursday to dismiss a case against three youths charged with an arson attack on a Roma household, could further weaken faith in the ability of the Czech authorities to crack down on racially motivated crime. Nick Carey has this report.
There have been numerous high profile cases of racially motivated attacks against the Roma minority in recent years. But when such cases reach court, the ruling from judges has often been that there was no proof an attack was racially motivated, and so a lower sentence for assault is handed out. Or, as in this latest case, the case is dismissed for lack of evidence. In 1998, an arson attack was carried out on the flat of a Roma family in the East Moravian town of Krnov. In the attack, a mother of four and her partner were severely burned, and were lucky to escape with their lives.
Three teenage boys were arrested in connection with the attack, and were charged with racially motivated assault. The case was dismissed last year for lack of evidence, which the state prosecutor appealed. The district court in Krnov decided to dismiss the case again on Thursday, again citing a lack of evidence. According to Claude Cahn of the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest, this verdict was probably inevitable, given the handling of the case:
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