National Alliance chairman released from jail

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The chairman of the extreme right National Alliance, Vladimir Skoupy, was released from jail on Thursday. Mr. Skoupy was given a one-year suspended sentence earlier this month for making racist speeches at far right demonstrations. Nick Carey joins me now with this report:

Vladimir Skoupy was arrested on February 26th of this year following a demonstration at which he made statements that, according to Czech law, promote fascism and racism. The charges against him listed the February demonstration and three others last year, at which he made other, similar statements. Amongst other things, Mr. Skoupy has denied the existence of the Holocaust and made racist remarks about the Roma minority in the Czech Republic.

Mr. Skoupy remained on remand following his arrest until his trial began in late May. On June 7th, he was found guilty of promoting racism and fascism, and given a one-year suspended sentence. Following his release on Thursday, Mr. Skoupy said that he still intends to attend National Alliance demonstrations, but will not make such statements again.

The Czech Republic has been criticised by humanitarian agencies on a number of occasions for the way that its legal system deals with racial crimes, and for the low sentences handed out to those who commit them. I spoke to political analyst Jiri Pehe, and asked him if Czech courts were too lenient on those who commit racially motivated crimes:

In the past few years there have been several cases in which members of the Roma minority have been attacked and even killed by right-wing extremists, but in the majority of cases, the courts have found that these were not racially motivated crimes. I asked Jiri Pehe if this was because there was a lack of adequate legislation to deal with such cases: