Ten years on from neo-Nazi arson conviction, Czech attorney warns it could happen again

In the late night hours of 18 April and early morning hours of 19 April 2009, four neo-Nazis – Václav Cojocaru, Jaromír Lukeš, Ivo Müller and David Vaculík – threw Molotov cocktails into a house in the town of Vítkov (Opava district) where a Romani family lived. During the subsequent blaze, three people were injured including a two-year-old girl, Natálka, who suffered burns over 80 % of her body. The courts sentenced the perpetrators to 20 and 22 years in prison. In the late night hours of 18 April and early morning hours of 19 April 2009, four neo-Nazis – Václav Cojocaru, Jaromír Lukeš, Ivo Müller and David Vaculík – threw Molotov cocktails into a house in the town of Vítkov (Opava district) where a Romani family lived. During the subsequent blaze, three people were injured including a two-year-old girl, Natálka, who suffered burns over 80 % of her body. The courts sentenced the perpetrators to 20 and 22 years in prison. In the late night hours of 18 April 2009 and the early morning hours of 19 April, four neo-Nazis attacked a single-family home in which a Romani family was living in the town of Vítkov, Opava district. The powerful blaze they started almost cost the life of an infant who was not even two years old and injured her father and mother. The perpetrators of the racially motivated crime were apprehended by police and the court handed down extraordinarz sentences against them on 20 October 2010. “That arson attack was absolutely exceptional in its brutality, in the destructive way it was performed, and in whom the perpetrators chose to victimize – a Romani family with several young children. Natálie Kudriková remains the youngest victim of bias violence committed on the territory of the Czech Republic and it is just coincidence that the hateful attack did not cost her her life,” said Klára Kalibová, director of the In IUSTITIA organization, who has long dedicated herself to aiding the victims of bias violence and hate violence to whom the organization provides legal and other professional services.
Speaking with news server Romea.cz., Kalibová reflected on the arson attack and its subsequent trial in association with the current situation in the Czech Republic. “That was an attack that followed a wave of demonstrations that were full of hate and prejudice, and it was the kind of attack that experts in the field of bias violence and extremism assumed would be committed. The rising wave of the hatred that had been apparent at the Janov housing estate in Litvínov during 2008 and 2009 culminated in that attack – it may have been perpetrated on the other side of the country, but it was nonetheless directly related to that growth in determination among the members of the ultra-right at that time. We can see obvious parallels with the situation today and the security quandary we saw during the recent demonstration on the Old Town Square in Prague,” the attorney told Romea.cz. According to Kalibová, it is also interesting, from a legal standpoint, to recall the kind of effort the police, prosecutor and judges expended during the proceedings around the 2009 arson. Criminal justice authorities took all aspects of the attack into account in their sentencing, both the biased, hateful motivation of the perpetrators and the brutal, premeditated way in which the attack was performed. “For that reason the sentences were rather long, but they were not excessive or discriminatory as some politicians did their best to label them at the time, including, for example, former President Václav Klaus,” she said. “We could only hope that the bravery and professionalism demonstrated towards the work undertaken back then by the police and the courts would be demonstrated by the criminal justice authorities in other cases as well, cases where the injured party is not a two-year-old girl, but a Romani teenager, for example, or a man from Tunisia. Hate crimes continue to be perpetrated here and we are not seeing adequate police responses to investigating them. Unfortunately, recent decisions by the criminal justice authorities rather demonstrate that the state has not yet begun to view biased hatred as something that should be focused on more intensively. What is even worse, we are on the way to seeing similar attacks being repeated in the near future.”

via romea.cz: Ten years on from neo-Nazi arson conviction, Czech attorney warns it could happen again