Czech neo-Nazis Jailed for Arson Attack on Gypsy Family's House

21. 10. 2010 / Fabiano Golgo

A Czech court has imposed the Republic's longest-ever jail term for a racially motivated crime - a firebomb attack on a Roma family's home that left a two-year-old child with burns over most of her body. David Vaculík, Ivo Mueller, Jaromír Lukeš and Václav Cojocaru were found guilty of throwing Molotov cocktails at the house in April 2009, in an attack to mark Adolf Hitler's 120th birthday. The regional court in the city of Ostrava, 360 kilometres (220 miles) east of Prague, sentenced Vaculík, Lukeš and Mueller to 22 years in prison each, and Cojocaru to 20 years. Other than life imprisonment, the maximum jail term in the Czech Republic is 25 years.

The court also ordered the four to pay 9.4 million Czech crowns in damages to Natalie, 72,000 Czk to her parents and 7.5 million Czk to a health insurance company. All four appealed the sentence.

Following the arson attack, the government stepped up its efforts to fight right wing extremism. In February, the country's Supreme Administrative Court banned an extremist far-right Workers Party because of its links to neo-Nazis, in the first such verdict since the fall of communism in 1989.

The case has garnered international attention for its brutality and the initial failure of local police to aggressively pursue the perpetrators. The Czech Romany community is estimated at between 250,000 and 300,000 people in a country of 10.5 million.

The Czech government has been censured by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that the country was discriminating against Roma children by putting them in special schools - for "backward" kids - a systematic streaming that precluded them from advancing academically and led to early drop-out. Roma children are routinely segregated in such classrooms and often put in schools for developmentally challenged children, a fate that ensures difficulty in the job market, and shuts the door on post-secondary education.

The government has, formally, phased out that program but many gypsy students are still segregated in Roma-only classes within mainstream schools, where they follow a different curriculum and are stigmatized in society, seldom being able to get a decent job.

The Czech Republic is the only EU country that has no anti-discrimination laws. The Roma, also known as Romany or Gypsies, face systemic discrimination and racist attacks from far-right groups, according to numerous human-rights reports.

There have been a number of neo-Nazi and skinhead marches into Roma ghettos, including one earlier this month, and there have been reports of unauthorized sterilizations of Roma woman as recently as last year.


Obsah vydání | Sobota 10.12. 2016