Court hands tough sentences to Vítkov arsonists
Four Czechs behind a brutal arson attack last year, that targeted the home of a Romany family in Vítkov in the east of the country, have been handed extraordinary sentences of up to 22 years in jail. The verdict is the toughest ever handed down in the country regarding a racially-motivated crime.
On Wednesday as he issued the ruling, the judge said the trial had proven the defendants had intended to kill for racially-motivated reasons when they threw three Molotov cocktails at the family home last April 19. In the attack, three people – Anna Siváková, her husband and their two-year-old daughter Natálka were injured, the toddler most brutally: she suffered severe burns to 80 percent of her body and barely survived. Wednesday’s ruling is the toughest ever handed-down in the Czech Republic for a racially-motivated crime. After the ruling, human rights activist Markus Pape, representing the Sivák family, had this to say:
The court found that the four men – who had ties to right-wing extremism – threw firebombs at the Sivák family’s home to gain notoriety within the neo-Nazi movement, the court found: it was no coincidence the attack took place on the eve of the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday. All the same, the four defendants – only one of whom expressed regret for his actions – pleaded not guilty; the defence argued they had never attempted murder, but believed the home to be empty; that argument did not stand up. Markus Pape again:
“I believe that the evidence against them in this case was very solid: even if they did not intend to commit murder, they were certainly fine with the result. This was an indirect purpose to kill. Of course, we have to wait for the written verdict to comment. But in general, today was a ‘holiday of justice’. Together with the victims in the attack and members of the broader Roma community both here and abroad, today we are very glad.”