Credit: Freepik

Roma Community Protests After Court Acquits Ukrainian Man of Killing Near Brno Dam

Several dozen people gathered in front of the Brno Regional Court yesterday to protest against Friday’s acquittal of a Ukrainian man who fatally injured a young Czech Roma man in a fight at the Brno dam last summer.

The court concluded that the defendant did not commit a crime and acted in necessary self-defence.

The protesters disagree with the ruling of necessary defence. One of the speakers from the Roma community argued that if it had been the other way around, and an Ukrainian was killed by a Roma, no one would recognise it as necessary defence.

Petr Stika, secretary of the Brno-Stred district, told CTK that about 50 people had gathered in front of the court.

The protesters were signing a petition against the verdict. They carried Roma and Czech flags and chanted slogans such as “We are at home here”. They called for equal treatment and justice for all.

It was said repeatedly by speakers at the protest that Roma people should become more involved and gain representation in politics.

The event lasted about 30 minutes, and was not followed by the originally announced march through Brno.

Justice Minister Pavel Blazek (ODS) wrote on Twitter (styled as ‘X’) last night that, according to the court and the state attorney, the case had no racial or ethnic overtones. “The judgement was clearly and comprehensibly reasoned by the judge presiding over the court panel. There is nothing to blame the court for in this respect. We will see whether the Court of Appeal will share its opinion,” Blazek said.

The incident at the Brno dam occurred last June. A man from Ukraine injured three people with a knife during a fight near a tram stop, and one of the three, a young Roma man, later died. Soon after the young man’s death, hostility towards Ukrainians began to spread among parts of the Roma community, and the incident sparked unrest in Brno.

The Regional Court on Friday acquitted the Ukrainian man, on the grounds that he was only resisting an assault. “It is true, there was bodily harm and death to a young person. It’s unfortunate. On the other hand, we will not criminalise conduct that does not in some way deviate from what the law allows us to consider a necessary defence,” judge Dita Repkova said.

The ruling has not taken legal effect yet.

“I am angry and outraged. This is a mockery of all Roma people and all the inhabitants of this country,” Roman Samko, one of the participants and initiators of the protest, told CTK. He added that he feared that the ruling on necessary defence might become a precedent and blueprint for other racially motivated attacks.

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