Roma convicted in Domažlice, Czech Republic

15 July 1997

On March 27, 1997, three Roma received suspended sentences in connection with a knife fight with skinheads which had taken place two years previously in the western Bohemian town of Domažlice in the Czech Republic. Although both skinheads and Roma were charged in connection with the fight, which had involved tens of people, only Roma were convicted, while alt of the skinheads were acquitted. According to the Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, the court heard wildly conflicting testimony and many observers stated that it was impossible to ascertain what had actually happened.

Asked to explain why he had found only one of the two parties in the fight guilty, Judge František Pokorný told Mlada Fronta Dnes, "It was found that the incident was provoked by the Roma, while it was not possible to overturn the skinheads' claim that they were only defending themselves." Despite intense anti-Roma sentiment at the core of the Czech skin head movement, a sentiment accompanied by often gruesome anti-Roma violence by skinheads, Czech courts have consistently held that being a skinhead does not suffice to demonstrate ethnic hatred. (ERRC)


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