Violence including rape and killing of Roma in Czech Republic

07 November 2001

On July 23, 2001, the Czech Press Agency reported that on the evening of July 20, 2001, a neonazi stabbed a Romani man to death in the eastern Bohemian town of Svitavy. While trying to drive Romani patrons out of a disco party and insulting their ethnicity, the perpetrator, Mr Vlastimil Pechanec, 22, allegedly inflicted serious bodily harm upon 29-year-old Mr Oto Absolon. On July 21, 2001, at around 8:30 AM, Mr Pechanec was detained by police. Mr Absolon died in hospital from the injuries sustained during the attack at around 9:30 on the same morning, according to reports in the regional daily Noviny Svitavska on July 28, 2001. At 11:30 AM, the police were informed of the death of Mr Absolon. The deceased was a father of two.

Mr Pechanec has been charged with racially motivated murder and was remanded into custody on the recommendation of the state attorney because he had a prior criminal record. The Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on July 24, 2001, that Mr Pechanec has admitted in the past to throwing stones at homes inhabited by Roma during a march by members of the Czech extreme right-wing "Republicans" Party and racist skinheads in 1996. In 1997, he was sentenced to two years imprisonment for racially motivated aggravated bodily harm after stabbing a Romani man. Then, in 2000, Pechanec was sentenced to fourteen months imprisonment for the crime of rioting after attacking an anarchist. Mr Pechanec's appeal against the latter conviction was rejected by the Regional Appeals Court in Hradec Kralove on July 22, 2001.

On July 30, 2001, eyewitnesses to the crime reported to the ERRC that Mr Pechanec's younger brother had threatened them with physical harm should they testify in connection with the killing of Mr Absolon. At the request of the ERRC, on the following day, officers of the Regional Office of Investigation in Hradec Kralove visited the witnesses and took their official statements. As of the date of publication, the investigation into this case was pending, and no indictment had been filed.

In other news, on July 19, 2001, a Romani man, Mr Karel G., 21, was reportedly raped by a police investigator in Chodov at Sokolov in western Bohemia, Czech Republic, according to the July 26, 2001, edition of the Czech daily Pravo. Mr Petr G., the victim's father, stated that his son had been summoned for interrogation to the police station in the morning of July 19, 2001, in connection with the alleged theft of a vehicle. At the station, the investigator forced him to take his clothes off and submit to an examination. After being taken to a psychiatrist in Karlovy Vary, reportedly to determine whether he was under the influence of narcotics, he was released. Mr Petr G. also reported that his son had again been summoned to the police station in the afternoon of the same day. Once in detention, the investigator, Mr P., allegedly gave him beer and vodka to drink, then forced him to swallow two pills, after which he drifted in and out of consciousness. When Karel G. returned home at around 10:00 PM, he began to tell his father about the events, but was unable to recall all details. It was at this point that they noticed that his underwear was inside out and that there was blood on it. Karel and Petr G. then filed a complaint at the police station. Police investigators from the regional office found bottles that contained alcohol residues at the police station.

The case investigator, Mr Pavel Kazda, told the ERRC that the abusive investigator, Mr P., would be charged with misuse of the authority of a public office. However, on July 26, 2001, the Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported Ms Sona Jindrakova, spokesperson for the Central Office for Investigations, as stating it was not certain that Mr P. would be charged with rape. Mr P. was reportedly dismissed from service on July 27, 2001, but authorities have released no information as to whether he has been charged with any crimes in relation to the incident.

(Czech Press Agency, ERRC, Mlada Fronta Dnes, Noviny Svitavska, Pravo)


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