Trial of Roma charged with racially-motivated crimes in Czech Republic suspended

15 July 1997

The Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported in April that a trial of five Roma in the northwest Bohemian town of Louny charged with racially motivated crimes under Article 198 of the Czech Criminal Code had been adjourned pending the hearing of further witnesses. The three men and two women are also charged with disorderly conduct and attacking a public official.

The incident began when officers responded to complaints concerning a fight among Roma in a local high-rise on September 28, 1996. The police were allegedly attacked as they moved to break up the fight. One of the police officers testified that "white swine was the politest thing they said." The police withdrew voluntarily, and the Roma were arrested on the following day. The genesis of racially-motivated crimes provisions is concern for the legal protection of minorities. In the Czech Republic, however, they have more often been invoked to try Roma for crimes against ethnic Czechs and now, evidently, against representatives of the state. This last usage, protecting representatives of the state, is a radical misapplication of the law. (ERRC, Mlada Fronta Dnes)


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