Skinhead Attacks on Roma in Czech Republic
10 May 2003
On December 20, 2002, Mr Emil M., a 41-year-old Romani man, was severely attacked by a group of approximately fifteen skinheads in the restaurant Merkur in Liberec in northern Czech Republic, according to his testimony, given to the ERRC on December 21, 2002. Mr M. reported that he was playing a game machine when a man from the group approached him and asked him to accompany them outside. Mr M. testified that he refused and was struck hard on the back of his head with a beer glass. The skinheads then began to repeatedly hit him with their fists and to kick him while shouting racial slurs such as, "We are going to kill you, black swine", Mr M. stated. Mr M. reportedly managed to escape to the washroom, where he called his brother from his mobile phone, and his brother then alerted the police to the incident. The attackers then kicked in the washroom door, pulled Mr M. out of the washroom and continued to beat him. Mr M. again escaped to another room at the other end of the restaurant, where the group was unable to get to him. Mr M. told the ERRC that no one in the restaurant offered him any assistance. The police arrived at the scene after the skinheads had left. Mr M. initially refused to file a complaint about the incident when officers asked if he wanted to, and the officers then brought him to a hospital. At the hospital, Mr M. informed the ERRC, surgery was performed on one of his elbows, which had a complex fracture, and he received sutures on his head. Mr M. also sustained numerous bruises and scratches. Mr M. filed a complaint with the police following his release from the hospital on December 23, 2002. On January 14, 2003, Mr M. told the ERRC that he had identified three of his attackers for the police at the Liberec Police Station by looking through photos on file. As of March 14, 2003, Mr M. reported that he was still under medical treatment for his injuries and that he had not yet been able to return to work. On March 14, 2003, Mr Miler, the police investigator in the case, informed the ERRC that one person, Mr L.J., had been charged with rioting and racially motivated grievous bodily harm, in accordance with Articles 202 (1) and 222 (1&2b) respectively, of the Czech Criminal Code. Mr Miler denied that Mr M. had reported having been attacked by fifteen people, although this was clearly stated in the criminal complaint submitted to the police by Mr M. on December 23, 2002. Mr Miler also denied having any knowledge of Mr M. identifying any of his attackers in the photos on file at the Liberec Police Station. On March 19, 2003, Mr Miler further informed the ERRC that eleven additional suspects had been identified in the case, although no formal charges had been brought.
In another case, Mr Kristof O., a 20-year-old man who appeared to be Romani, was attacked by a group of skinheads on Lipová Street in Prague on November 1, 2002, as reported in the Czech national daily newspaper Lidové Noviny of November 5, 2002. According to the daily, the group shouted racial epithets as they repeatedly hit and kicked him. Mr O. reportedly sustained lacerations on his head for which he received ten sutures, as well as other cuts and bruises on his body. On January 16, 2003, Mr Ladislav Bernášek, a press officer for the Prague Police Department, told the ERRC, that he was unable to find any record of the case and asked the ERRC to find the surname of the victim. As of March 12, 2003, the ERRC had still not been able to get an update on the case from the police due to inadequate information on the victim.
In other events, at approximately 6:00 PM on October 29, 2002, two adult skinheads brutally attacked Marek F., a 12-year-old Romani boy, and four other teenagers on Leitnerova Street in Brno, southeastern Czech Republic, according to the Czech national daily newspaper Mladá Fronta Dnes (MFDnes) of November 7, 2002. The daily reported that the two skinheads kicked Marek F. repeatedly, then left him lying on the street, unconscious. The daily stated that, according to Marek F., racial comments were shouted for the duration of the attack. An unknown person reportedly called an ambulance after having found Marek F. on the street, but he ran home before it arrived and went to the hospital later on his own. According to his medical report, Marek F. sustained a broken arm as a result of the attack, MFDnes reported. According to the daily, the police investigating the attack stated that there was no evidence that the attack was racially motivated. Ms Ilona F., Marek's mother, reportedly filed a criminal complaint on October 30, 2002. On March 24, 2003, Mr Pop, a spokesperson for the Brno Police Department informed the ERRC that the police decided to close the case on February 27, 2003, and that, as a complaint had not been filed in objection to this, the decision came into force on March 7, 2003. The case was reportedly closed because neither Marek F. nor the other four teenagers were able to identify the attackers.
Earlier, on October 25, 2002, at about midnight, three skinheads wearing bomber jackets and two other men attacked Marek Polak Jr, a 17-year-old Romani youth, at a tram stop in Prague, according to his testimony to the ERRC on October 27, 2002. According to his statement, the attackers punched and kicked him all over his body, including his face, and shouted racist remarks throughout the attack. Marek told the ERRC that he suffered a concussion and sustained abrasions all over his body as a result of the attack. On October 26, 2002, Marek reported, he sought medical treatment during which he received sutures on his head. Marek informed the ERRC that, following the attack, police found the four perpetrators and they were accused of rioting and causing bodily harm, but they had been released after a short period of detention. On February 6, 2003, Ms Hana Vrbová, a prosecutor in Prague, told the ERRC that the four suspects had been charged under Article 222 (1&2b) of the Czech Criminal Code for causing severe injury to health with a racial motive. As of March 12, 2003, the trial had not yet started. Additional information on cases of racist violence against Roma in Czech Republic can be found on the ERRC's Internet website at: http://www.errc.org.
(ERRC, Lidové Noviny, MFDnes)