Credit: Freepik.

37-Year Old Man Charged With Murder Over June Killing of Roma Man

The 37-year-old man faces up to 18 years in prison. Credit: Freepik.

Brno, Oct 25 (CTK) – Prosecutors have charged a man of Ukrainian origin with murder and bodily harm over the death of a young Roma man at the Brno reservoir in June, Brno Regional Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Hynek Olma said yesterday. The killing, which took place during the Ignis Brunensis festival, raised tensions between Ukrainians and Roma people in Brno.

The 37-year-old man faces up to 18 years in prison, Olma wrote on the Office’s website.

The charges were filed at the Brno Regional Court.

The prosecution says the alleged perpetrator attacked and injured three people with a knife near a tram stop on 10 June, and they ended up in hospital, where one of them, a young Roma man, later died.

Soon after his death, hostility towards Ukrainians began to spread among parts of Brno’s Roma community.

“At approximately 7:40 pm, on the asphalt sidewalk connecting the Pristaviste public transport stop and Pristavni Street, during a mutual skirmish with three young male victims, he attacked them using his own knife, as a result of which he inflicted life-threatening injuries on one of them, from which he died, and subsequently inflicted stab wounds on two of the victims, causing them bodily harm,” Olma said.

The man was initially placed in custody, and is now being prosecuted at large. The Brno City Court first decided to release him from custody in July, but the prosecutor filed a complaint against that decision. The Regional Court subsequently upheld the decision of the first instance court in August.

According to the City Court’s opinion at the time, the material conditions of detention had significantly diminished. It was replaced by a written promise by the accused and supervision by a probation officer.

“The grounds for detention continue to exist, but they have been softened,” court spokeswoman Petra Lanickova said at the time. Moreover, she said the judge had doubts that the case was murder.

Nevertheless, the judge is not entitled to reclassify the crime at this stage of the proceedings, as this is the responsibility of the pre-trial bodies.

The June incident in Brno contributed to anti-Ukrainian sentiment among some Roma people. Emotions were then raised further by a series of misinformation posts on social media about assaults on Roma people by Ukrainians, which were refuted by police. A number of prominent Roma figures condemned the anti-Ukrainian actions, warned against claiming collective guilt, and called for discernment and verification of the reports.

The government Commissioner for Human Rights, Klara Simackova Laurencikova, and the Commissioner for Roma Affairs, Lucie Fukova, also intervened. Municipalities can now use the new ‘ten principles of crisis communication’ to calm any tensions and unrest in towns and villages. The information guide was created by the expert group on preventing and calming prejudice-related violence, which was established in the summer in response to the hostility between the Ukrainian and Roma communities.

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