Fire bomb attack on Romani house in Czech Republic

03 October 2000

On July 14, 2000, at about 11:00 PM, a fire bomb was thrown at the window of the house of the family of Mr Jiří Giňa, a Romani family living close to the railway station in the western Czech town of Rokycany, according to the Czech daily Mladá Fronta Dnes and Czech State TV. The explosive broke on the window frame and did not fall into the room inside where three children were sleeping. The bomb did not explode and caused no damage.

In connection with this attack, on July 18, 2000, Mr Jiří Houba, director of the Regional Police Directory of Rokycany, told the ERRC that investigator Ms Broumová of the Rokycany Investigation Office had accused three seventeen-year-old men of racially motivated crime under Criminal Code Article 196(2). As of October 10, the three men were not in police custody. Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on July 20 that the three men accused of the attack were members of the right-wing extremist group Ceský Lev (Czech Lion). According to Ms Jana Tomková, spokesperson for the Rokycany police, on the evening of July 14, the three accused men drank about ten glasses of beer in a restaurant, and then decided to burn the Giňa house. They went to the house, lit the bomb and threw it at the window. The burning piece of cotton fell out of the bottle, which crashed on the side of the window and fell to the ground outside the house. The attackers ran away to prepare another fire bomb. They intended to throw it at another Romani house, but they could not find an appropriate opportunity so they returned to the Giňa house in order to repeat the attack. However, a lot of people were standing around the house so they decided not to carry out another attack. On October 10, 2000, Ms Broumová informed the ERRC that the investigations were still open.

In a separate but possibly related incident, some time between July 14 and July 17, 2000, unknown perpetrators broke three windows of the office of the Rokycany-based Romani non-governmental organisation Kulturní Jednota (Cultural Unity) and poured gasoline on the floor inside. No fire resulted. The well-known Romani activist Mr Ondřej Giňa is the chair of this organisation. Mr Giňa had feared that the fire bomb attack of July 14, 2000, against a family of the same name, had been intended for him. Mr Houba told the ERRC that even after discovering the damage to the office, the police did not guard the office as nobody lived there and there was no danger of life. According to him, the police were not even guarding the house of Mr Giňa, but were periodically checking the site of the first fire bomb attack, Mr Giňa’s house, and the house of his son in Myto, a neighbouring town. Roma interviewed by the ERRC considered this protection inadequate. On October 11, 2000, Mr Königsmark, head of the local police in Rokycany, told the ERRC that investigation into the arson attack on the Kulturní Jednota was still open. He stated that police did not have any suspects. Chemical analysis of the clothing of the three men accused of the firebomb attack on the house of Mr Jiří Giňa reportedly did not find traces of the same chemical found in the office. Police have excluded the possibility of any connection between the two cases.

(Czech Press Agency, Czech State TV, ERRC, Mladá Fronta Dnes)


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