Four Czech neo-Nazis on Wednesday received prison terms of 22 and 20 years for attempted murder after a shocking petrol bomb attack on a Romany family’s home last year. The unusual length of the sentences has provoked some debate in the Czech Republic; the country’s president has expressed surprise that the punishment is so severe, while others have welcomed the verdict.
The Vítkov arson trial came to an end on Wednesday with the conviction of all four defendants, who received extra-ordinary sentences. The Regional Court of Ostrava on Wednesday morning sent three of the culprits to 22 years in prison for racially motivated attempted murder. The remaining perpetrator received 20 years because he did not assist in planning the attack. The four neo-Nazis were found guilty of throwing Molotov cocktails into a house they knew was inhabited by a Romany family on April 19, 2009, likely to mark the anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. Of the nine people in the house, three were injured in the attack, including a two-year-old child, Natálka, who suffered burns to 80% of her body. The girl’s mother was present at the sentencing and said she had not expected such high punishments, and was glad the case was over. The perpetrators must also pay more than 17 million crowns in compensation for damages, 9.5 million of which will go to the injured child. Lawyers for each of the defendants said they would appeal.
Former deputy prime minister Jiří Čunek told the news website tyden.cz on Sunday that Romanies genetically lacked discipline. The Christian Democrat politician, who was elected to the municipal council in Vsetín, northern Moravia, in the local elections, was asked whether he thought any Roma voted for him. Mr Čunek said that they said they did but that they rarely vote because of their genetically-inflicted lack of discipline. In his career, Mr Čunek came under fire several times over his comments on the Romany community.
Police are investigating alleged election fraud in the north Bohemian municipalities of Chodov, Krupka, Roudnice nad Labem, Most and others, a police spokeswoman said on Saturday. Voters were allegedly offered money to vote for a particular party; the alleged fraudsters were reportedly targeting members of the Romany community. The police have reinforced patrols in the area; however, a member of the election committee in Chodov said they believed no law was breached as the incidents did not take place in the vicinity of the polling stations.
Preparations are underway for the launch of the Czech Republic’s first television station aimed at the country’s large Vietnamese community, Hospodářské noviny. The channel will be named Viet Sen; the word sen means dream in Czech and lotus flower in Vietnamese. One of its owners told the newspaper that it would begin on the internet with weekly programmes on such topics as Vietnamese events and football leagues and how to negotiate Czech bureaucracy. In two years the station should begin broadcasting on cable and satellite. However, the whole project is contingent on the receipt of European Union funding.
The Czech branch of the Salvation Army says that homelessness in the Czech Republic has climbed significantly in the last year. A spokesman for the church told the press on Wednesday that according to its estimates, the situation had worsened particularly in Prague, where it believes homelessness increased by a forth in the first half of 2010. Every fourth or fifth family it said was indebted. The Salvation Army is celebrating twenty years since it renewed its operations in the Czech Republic, where it was previously active from 1919 to 1950. It currently works in nine cities in the country.
The highly-publicized Vítkov court case in which four neo-Nazis are standing trial for an arson attack against a Roma family is slowly drawing to a close. In one of the final hearings on Tuesday the state attorney demanded exemplary prison sentences of up to 25 years for what she said was premeditated, racially motivated attempted murder.
“Neo-conservative” is not a term heard too often on the Czech political scene, but when it is then more often than not it’s used in reference to Roman Joch, the outspoken head of the right-wing Christian think tank the Civic Institute (Mr Joch himself prefers the title “paleoconservative”, bestowed upon him by the Prime Minister). That history, along with a certain notoriety for inflammatory rhetoric, lent to waves of criticism when Mr Joch was appointed advisor to the Prime Minister on human rights, the definition and conception of which was the
The Education Ministry has removed an ethics guide from a list of literature recommended for school pupils after a complaint from a gay rights group. The organisation Charlie said the book was homophobic and promoted conservative and religious beliefs; the publication claimed gay people were mentally unstable and in need of treatment, warned against masturbation, and criticised the use of condoms. The ministry said it was taking all books by the guide’s co-author Ladislav Lencz off recommended reading lists.
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