The trial has begun of four men accused of a firebomb attack on a Romany
family’s home that left a small child fighting for her life. The four
accused of throwing three petrol bombs into the house in the north
town of Vítkov in April last year. Many people in the Czech Republic were
shocked by the attack, which left Natálka Siváková, who is now three,
with burns on 80 percent of her body. Her parents were also injured.
The accused, believed to be neo-Nazis, could face 15 years or more in jail if found guilty of multiple charges of attempted racially motivated murder. The trial is expected to last for up to one month.
The trial of four defendants accused of racially-motivated attempted murder in an attack on a Romany family last year began under tight security on Tuesday in the city of Ostrava. Last year on the night of April 19th they are suspected of having firebombed the family’s residence, using Molotov cocktails. Three people were injured, including a toddler who suffered severe burns and barely survived. If found guilty, the four accused could face up to 15 years in prison or even receive exemplary sentences of life behind bars.
Activities of right-wing extremists have dropped in the first three months of this year, according to a report by the Czech intelligence service, or BIS, released on Thursday. While the decrease is attributed to the ban of the far-right Workers’ Party, authorities says better police work has also curbed extremism-related crime.
Around 100 members of the far-right Workers’ Party of Social Justice, which evolved from the banned Workers’ Party, gathered at Prague’s náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad square on Saturday. They dispersed after half an hour after organisers abandoned the idea of going on a march. Meanwhile, an estimated 200 anarchists congregated in the downtown area before moving on to one of the islands on the River Vltava. Police said they had withdrawn extra officers that had been drafted in when the gatherings, which they had assessed as potential flashpoints, passed off peacefully.
The number of people charged with extremist activities in the Czech Republic was 50 percent higher 2009 than in the previous year, according to a report Interior Minister Martin Pecina presented to the government on Monday. However, the number of recorded extremist crimes fell by about a fifth last year in comparison with 2008. Some 256 extremist crimes were recorded in 2009, representing 0.07 percent of all crimes dealt with by the Czech police. Most of those charged were aged between 21 and 39. The report found that more secondary school and third level graduates had faced charges, though it said the increase could not be regarded as a trend.
The winner of the Miss Roma Czech Republic 2010 contest, which took place on Saturday evening, is the student Pavlína Lendelová. The 17-year-old student from North Bohemia competed against twelve finalists, including her own sister, in disciplines such as folk dancing. She received numerous prizes, including a one-week-vacation at a Czech spa. This year, 65 girls of Romany origin participated in the Miss Roma Czech Republic contest.
Plzeň police are prosecuting a group of three men, who were seen giving the Hitler salute at a bar late on Saturday night. The three men, aged 29, 40 and 44, were shouting Neo-Nazi slogans propagating the suppression of human rights, which is considered an illegal act in the Czech Republic. One of the three verbally attacked a woman who was in the bar, and later punched her in the ear. It is not clear yet if the three perpetrators were participants in a far-right extremist march that took place in Plzeň earlier on Saturday. Local police arrested a total of six participants, who were wearing clothing with illegal imagery and slogans.
The mayor of Plzeň’s third district ordered that a march of far-right radicals be broken up, only a few minutes after it started on Saturday afternoon. He said the gathering was against the law because some participants were wearing clothing that exhibited imagery and slogans which may be illegal and propagate the suppression of human rights. Some 200 right-wing extremists attended the march, which they said was a show of support to imprisoned members of the movement. A group of roughly fifty anarchists protested the far-right radicals’ gathering. Hundreds of police officers were on duty.
A racist passage from a popular Czech children’s book recently sparked a heated debate in the Czech media after a Romany activist asked for it to be withdrawn from the school curriculum. Thousands of Czechs publicly opposed the request, which was also dismissed as unjustified by some Romany organizations. But others believe the issue of racist undertones in some Czech literary works should be taken seriously.
World Equal Pay Day was marked for the first time in the Czech Republic on Thursday, with successful businesswomen among those attending events to draw attention to the gap in salaries between women and men. Statistics suggest the gender pay gap in this country is around 25% - i.e. on average Czech women earn one quarter less than Czech men. Earlier we spoke to Petr Pavlík, associate professor of gender studies at Charles University, and asked him more about the gender pay gap.
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