Prosecuting racist criminals in the Czech Republic

In a decision of importance to Roma rights, on August 29, 2000, Judge Hrachovec, of the Supreme Court in Brno, overturned the verdict of the District Court of the northern Czech town of Jeseník concerning a racial attack against a Romani man named Tibor Mižigar. The Czech Press Agency reported that Judge Hrachovec critised the District Court judge for examining the actions of the four skinheads acquitted only individually rather than as participation in a joint racial attack.

On July 17, 1999, at 10:40 PM, a group of skinheads attacked Mr Mižigar, a twenty-seven-year old Romani man, in a bar in Jeseník. The skinheads shouted racial abuse at Mr Mižigar and threw pool balls at him, before attacking him with baseball bats and pool cues. Mr Mižigar was seriously injured and required two weeks to recover. O bservers noted that the attack appeared to have been an attempt to kill Mr Mižigar (See "Snapshots from Around Europe", Roma Rights 3/1999).

On January 24, 2000, the District Court of Jesenik returned an extremely unsatisfactory decision on the case: only two of the six men originally indicted were found guilty of damage to health and racially motivated damage to health (Criminal Code Articles 221 (1 and 2b)), disturbing the peace and disturbing the peace in a group (Articles 202 (1 and 2)), and defamation of nation or race (Article 198 (1a)) Mr Radek Šupa was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment, and Mr Edvard Šindler was sentenced to twenty-two months imprisonment: both had been previously convicted in connection with racially motivated attacks. The remaining four individuals were acquitted (See "Snapshots from Around Europe", Roma Rights 1/2000). Due to this Supreme Court decision, the case will be returned to the District Court of Jeseník which will have to issue a new ruling in accordance with the Supreme Court's instructions.

(Czech Press Agency, ERRC)

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