Headlines 29 October, 2010
SWASTIKAS SPRAYED NEAR HOLOCAUST MUSEUM (uk)
29/10/2010- Vandals have sprayed Nazi graffiti on the doorstep of the UK Holocaust Centre. Police are investigating after two residents of Newark, near Nottingham, reported that swastikas had been daubed on their property just minutes from the site of a museum dedicated to stamping out prejudice. Fashion photographer Michel Haddi, who has a Jewish girlfriend, told police that he had found the symbol painted on his front door. Another woman reported that a swastika had been scrawled onto her car bonnet. Dr James Smith, chairman and co-founder of the Holocaust Centre, described what happened as “hate crimes” and said it reinforced the need for education. He said: Those who commit hate crimes do so out of their own malevolence, but such actions can be encouraged by wider prejudice within communities. “The best way to overcome prejudice is through education, and by the majority of good decent people making it known that they won’t stand for disgraceful acts like this.” The UK Holocaust Centre was set up 15 years ago and runs programmes on Nazi history as well as on the genocide campaigns in places from Rwanda to Darfur. Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, condemned an "appalling antisemitic attack". She said: "We are shocked and saddened that a crime of this nature could take place in modern Britain. "It is profoundly insulting both to Holocaust Survivors and to the memory of the millions of people murdered by Hitler’s regime.”
Swastika vandalism at Holocaust Centre condemned
1/11/2010- Staff at the Holocaust Centre in Newark have condemned vandals who daubed swastikas on property belonging to two of the town's residents. Dr James Smith, the centre's chairman, called the graffiti on a door on Mill Gate and car on Mill Lane "a disgraceful act". Nottinghamshire Police said the incidents, which happened on 19 October, were "extremely unusual". The force is treating the vandalism as a hate crime.
BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/
© The Jewish Chronicle
NEO-NAZI GETS LIFE SENTENCE FOR HATE KILLINGS (Russia)
29/10/2010- The Moscow City Court has sentenced a 22-year-old neo-Nazi to life in prison for killing 15 people. Vasily Krivets, who was also handed a fine of 13.5 million rubles ($450,000), has not confessed to the crimes. The court also sentenced Dmitry Ufimtsev, 23, who confessed to committing five murders, to 22 years in prison. After their meeting in 2007, Ufimtsev and Krivets collaborated in the murder of 15 people, most of whom were migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus. The two have also been linked to the Nationalist Socialist Society (NSO), an ultra-nationalist gang that first began as a political movement. Ufimtsev and Krivets said they identified their victims according to their physical appearance, specifically targeting “foreigners” and assaulting them with knives. One such victim, for example, was an elderly violinist who played for small change near a metro station in Moscow, the Gazeta daily reported. Krivets admitted to stabbing the man and leaving him to die for “being Jewish” – testimony he later denied. This is only the third time that a man has received a life sentence for hate killings in Russia. Two previous life sentences were handed to Nikolay Korolev in 2008, for a bombing that killed 14 people, and Aleksandr Degtyarev in 2010 for murdering four people. Ufimtsev and Krivets have refused requests to speak to the press. Their lawyers have ten days to appeal the verdict from the moment they receive a written copy of it. Hate crimes have seen a recent rise in Russia. The Ministry of Interior has stated that 548 such crimes were committed in 2009, up by more than 50 per cent from 2007. Ultra-nationalist gangs have also mushroomed, with more than 150 of them currently operating throughout Russia.
NEO-NAZI GROUPS, EXTREMIST CRIME INCREASING RAPIDLY IN RUSSIA, SENIOR MVD OFFICIAL SAYS
28/10/2010- Major General Sergey Girko, the head of the Scientific Research Institute of the Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs, says that there are now more than 150 neo-Nazi groups in his country and that both their number and the number of extremist crimes is rising rapidly. Speaking to an international conference in Moscow on combating extremist and terrorist groups and crime today, Girko acknowledged that for that reason as well as many others, “the operational situation in the area of countering extremism on the territory of the Russian Federation remains complicated” Girko said that “every year” the number of crimes of an extremist nature in Russia has been growing. “If in 2007, there were 356 such crimes registered” – a 35 percent increase over the year before – “then in 2008, this figure increased to 460 (up 29 percent) and in 2009 to 548 (up 19 percent).”
The current year has been no exception to this pattern, the MVD general said. During the first six months of the year, there were 370 such crimes recorded, up by 39 percent over the same period in 2009. And that figure suggests that there will be a comparable increase for the entire year as well. Moreover, Girko continued, “the number of radical groups based on the ideology of national, racial and religious tolerance also continues to grow.” According to MVD figures, there are now “more than 150 radical neo-fascist groups” in Russia “whose members profess a cult of nationalism and racial superiority” and seek to implement it with violence. The MVD institute director said that “we very well understand that statistics are not an absolutely exact barometer” in this area. “As law enforcement practice shows, at the initial stage, extremist crimes are sometimes classified as having been committed for other reasons” all the more so because extremist groups are often combined with ordinary criminal ones.
“In Russia,” he continued, “particularly in recent years,” the powers that be have adopted “a complex of legislative and organizational measures in order to react in an adequate fashion to the existing threats from the side of organized criminal formations of an extremist and terrorist direction.” Among these steps, Girko said, has been “the creation of a government system of countering extremism in which a particular place undoubtedly belongs to law enforcement organs.” They in turn have created inside the MVD a special department, whose staff specializes in providing advice on how to respond to and then prevent extremist crime. His own institute, Girko said, conducts research and makes recommendations in this area in order to “raise the level” of the understanding of front-line officers in the struggle with this kind of crime and to generalize on the findings of investigators so that what one group learns all can benefit from.
The institute’s research, he continued, shows how complicated and multi-faceted is the task of those who seek to combat such crimes, and Girko suggested that what is “required” now is the involvement of “all institutions of government power” in this struggle, with each being responsible for one or another sector. While a great deal has been accomplished, Girko said, “work in this direction in many regions [of the Russian Federation] is not being carried out at all or is being carried out in an ineffective way.” In all too many places, such activities are limited to declarations of good intentions rather than continuing action. Girko concluded by saying that Russia’s fight against extremist crimes can only benefit from the experiences of others who have assembled in Moscow for this conference, and he said that the speeches and deliberations of the group would be published so that they could benefit everyone who is engaged in this struggle.
© Window on Eurasia Blog
SUSPENDED SENTENCE FOR CZECH AUTHOR OF "THE FINAL SOLUTION TO THE GYPSY QUESTION" (Czech Rep.)
26/10/2010- Today the District Court in Písek, Czech Republic sentenced Jiří Gaudin, the author of a study entitled "The Final Solution to the Gypsy Question", to a 14-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. Gaudin had faced up to three years in prison for inciting racial hatred. Until this year, Gaudin had been a member of the leadership of the ultra-nationalist National Party. The release of his study on "The Final Solution to the Gypsy Question" was celebrated last April by 20 members and promoters of the National Party at Lety, the site of a Nazi concentration camp for Roma during the Second World War. The publication, which court experts said refers in its title to the Nazi plan to murder European Jews, was adopted as official National Party material last year. At the time, Gaudin said his study was a solid piece of work: "This is not a provocation, it's a serious scholarly work including contributions from experts who are currently publishing." The other experts' names are not listed in the publication; Gaudin said this was because they did not want to encounter problems in their other work as a result of their participation in the project. The extreme-right National Party entered the Czech political scene in 2002, agitating against the European Union and immigrants for several years before falling apart last autumn.
translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Malmö police received a further report on what could be another of the wave of shootings suspected to be directed against people of immigrant descent in the city, while residents came out in force to demonstrate against the violence.
26/10/2010- Police received a report from a man on Östra Farmvägen in the Kartrinelund area of the city who thought that he had been the target of a shooting. "He said that he had heard some form of bang or a crack and we went over to speak to the man and search for any clues," said Charley Nilsson at Skåne police. Just prior to that several people got in touch regrading a shooting by a local store on Ramels väg. "We we got there we found four empty cases and deemed that they came from a start pistol and not a live weapon," said Nilsson. He continued to point out that it remains serious if someone has let off a shot with a start pistol, not only because someone could get hurt, but also considering that it could contribute to the level of fear and concern regarding the wave of unsolved shootings. "Furthermore it uses up time which we could otherwise use for something else and perhaps more important work," Nilsson said.
On Monday evening police seized a car after the driver heard a bang and then the rear windscreen exploded. "We was about to drive out of a garage on Ramels väg when he heard the noise," Nilsson said. Police do not believe that anyone has shot directly at the car or the driver, however. "But we want to be certain and rule it out." Elsewhere on Monday evening, several hundred people gathered in a new demonstration against violence and social marginalization, in response to the shootings in the city. "Together we are bulletproof," read one of the banners. At a press conference earlier in the day it was concluded that 19 of the 50 or so shootings which have occurred since October last year have been consigned the file marked unexplained which are now the focus of investigations. "The profiling group have now gone through all the cases and come to the conclusion that there are good grounds to believe that it concerns the same perpetrator, but we can not get stuck on the idea," said detective inspector Börje Sjöholm at Skåne county police.
Police have confirmed that one person has died and eight people have been injured as a result of the attacks which have been compared to the "Laserman" spate of shootings which occurred in the early 1990s. Laserman was the nickname given to John Ausonius, who shot 11 people of immigrant origin, killing one, in and around Stockholm from August 1991 to January 1992. Ausonius, who in many of the attacks used a rifle equipped with a laser sight, was sentenced to life behind bars in 1994 and remains in prison. Just as with the Laserman case, the recent shootings in Malmö come at a time when an openly anti-immigration party has just entered the Swedish parliament. This year, the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats won 20 seats in parliament in the September 19th election with an especially strong showing in the south of Sweden.
© The Local - Sweden
FRENCH COURT HEARS ANTI-SEMITIC MURDER APPEAL
25/10/2010- A Paris court is hearing the appeal of 18 people convicted in the 2006 kidnapping, torture and murder of a young French Jew. One who's not appealing is Gang leader Youssouf Fofana, who chose not to appeal his conviction and life sentence. The appeal started Monday; it's expected to continue through mid-December. The case revived worries in France about anti-Semitism, considered an aggravating circumstance in the case, and led to anxiety in France's Jewish community, the largest in western Europe. Ilan Halimi, who was 23 years old, was held captive for more than three weeks. He was found naked, handcuffed and covered with burn marks near railroad tracks in the Essonne region south of Paris on Feb. 13, 2006. He died on the way to the hospital.
© The Business Week
Headlines 22 October, 2010
NEW BLUEPRINT PROVIDES PATH TO PROTECT ROMA (Hungary)
20/10/2010- Today, as Ministers from the Council of Europe convene in Strasbourg to discuss the problems of discrimination that Roma face, Human Rights First is calling on the Hungarian government to implement a set of concrete and achievable measures to improve responses to hate crimes against Roma. In its Blueprint for Combating Violence Against Roma in Hungary, unveiled today during an event at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the organization urges the Hungarian government to show political leadership on this issue, publicly commit to investigate all hate crimes, update legislation and implement practices to address hate crime more systematically. "Though the plight of Europe's Roma has captured growing international attention due to the expulsions in France, Hungary's Roma have long experienced widespread discrimination and violence," said Human Rights First's Paul LeGendre. "The Hungarian government has a responsibility to address the rising tide of intolerance and hate crime head on. This blueprint offers them a roadmap to achieve this much needed reform." LeGendre added: "This blueprint also contains a number of recommendations for the United States as it strives to advance human rights globally. As part of that outreach, the United States should strengthen work with the Hungarian government to protect the rights of Roma."
Violence is not a new manifestation of anti-Roma prejudice, yet there has been a particularly sharp rise in serious—sometimes deadly—violent attacks in Hungary since 2008. This has inflamed social tensions and weakened the sense of protection from discrimination for minorities across the country. The violence has included severe beatings in broad daylight, murders by arson or shootings and the throwing of Molotov cocktail explosives that has resulted in physical injuries and property damage. According to the Hungarian-based Desegregation Foundation, a group led by former European Parliament Member Viktória Mohácsi, 68 anti-Roma attacks – including 11 fatalities - occurred in Hungary between January 2008 and June 2009. Mohácsi, a leading domestic monitor of anti-Roma attacks and hate crimes and Human Rights First's 2010 Human Rights Award recipient, has documented the most thorough account of the violence, has provided assistance to victims and has pressed for government responses. The Blueprint documents a number of the most serious hate crime cases, including several that are currently under investigation by the government.
Human Rights First notes that the violence committed against Hungary's Roma has occurred against a backdrop of underlying factors, including persistent discrimination, negative societal attitudes, and hateful rhetoric that have exacerbated stereotyping of Roma. The problem has only been worsened by shortcoming in the Hungarian government's response which has been hampered by the underreporting of hate crime, mistrust rooted in policy misconduct, inadequate data collection mechanisms and an insufficient legal framework for identifying and addressing hate crimes. In response to these findings, Human Rights First's blueprint outlines a series of reforms for Hungarian politicians, law enforcement officials, and government leaders. It also poses suggestions for U.S. leaders.
Among its key recommendations to the Hungarian government are the following:
* Senior Hungarian government officials should speak out against violence against Roma or the members of any other group.
* The Hungarian authorities should ensure that law enforcement officials have clear guidelines to vigorously address crimes.
* The Ministry of Interior and other relevant ministries should commit to collecting and publishing data on the incidence and response to all hate crimes.
* Law enforcement officials should take steps towards increasing the confidence of hate crime victims to report crimes to the police. The authorities should ensure thorough investigations and prosecution of any reports of police misconduct or abuse.
* Senior law enforcement officials should ensure that police receive adequate training on community policing, conflict resolution at local level and on identifying and recording bias motivations.
* With regard to arrests already made in August 2009 in the murder of six Roma and other hate crime attacks, the Hungarian authorities should move quickly bring the suspects to account through a public and open trial.
Its recommendations to the United States include:
* Consistently raise the problem of violent hate crime, with representatives of the Hungarian government at all level of bilateral exchanges and encourage legal and other policy responses.
* Maintain strong and inclusive State Department monitoring and public reporting of racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, anti-Roma, and other bias motivated violence.
* Offer appropriate technical assistance and other forms or cooperation, including assistance from experts in the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the investigation of individual hate crimes cases, as well as the training of police and prosecutors in investigating, recording, reporting and prosecuting violent hate crimes, including against Roma.
© Human Rights First
BULGARIA CRACKS DOWN ON HATE SPEECH
22/10/2010- Authors of hate speech will face up to four years imprisonment and a BGN 5,000 fine, according to the newly adopted amendments to the Bulgarian Penal Code. The penalty will apply to journalists and authors in the media and in electronic information systems, such as websites. The newly adopted amendments explain in details the forms of discrimination and incitement that will be punishable. They include discrimination, based on sexual orientation, religion, disabilities and social standing among others. Besides facing jail and fines, violators will also be held up to public censure. The sanctions will be the same for use of violence or property damage, based on race, nationality, ethnicity, religion and political views. Racist or xenophobic murders would be punished with 10 to 20 years imprisonment. The amendments also envision an increase of the penalties for destruction of a protected area, valuable rock formations and cliffs. The fines for perpetrators would range from BGN 2,000 to BGN 10,000. The Penal Code will from now on oblige the Bulgarian state to recognize and apply legal implications of convictions, issued in other EU countries.
HATE-CRIME WAVE CONTINUES: THUG TARGETED GAY BARS (usa)
21/10/2010- A 45-year-old Queens man has been charged in two attacks, just 10 minutes apart, in two West Village gay bars, the second and third such incidents in Village gay establishments in the past two weeks. Frederick Giunta has been arraigned on charges of assault in the third degree as a hate crime and attempted robbery in the third degree in the two incidents. Giunta is alleged to have grabbed the wallet of a 31-year-old Brooklyn man and punched him in the face outside of Ty’s, a bar at 114 Christopher St., between Bedford and Bleecker Sts., at 5:30 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 11. The police say that 10 minutes later, at Julius’ bar, about three blocks away at 159 W. 10th St. at Waverly Place, the suspect punched Greg Davis, a 38-year-old, African-American man and Chelsea resident who is a bartender there, while yelling at him, “What are you going to do?” and calling him a racial slur, then yelling at him, “You are a f------ faggot.”
According to a statement from the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (A.V.P.), police said Giunta has “a known history of luring gay men with the intent to rob and injure them,” a characterization that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn echoed. A law enforcement source said that Giunta pleaded guilty to a 2002 charge that after leaving the Rawhide bar in Chelsea with one of its patrons, he stole the man’s wallet. “This most recent attack underscores our need to stop the hate speech and anti-L.G.B.T.Q. vitriol that results in this kind of attack,” Sharon Stapel, A.V.P.’s executive director, said in a statement. Quinn credited the suspect’s arrest to quick action by the Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force. “Tragically, this is just the most recent in a series of hate crimes to strike our city and neighborhoods in recent weeks,” the speaker said. Paul Seres, president of the New York Nightlife Association, said, “This is not just an L.G.B.T. problem, it is a New York City problem.”
Two Staten Island men, Matthew Francis, 21, and Christopher Orlando, 17, were arrested in connection with an Oct. 3 assault on a patron at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher St., where the modern gay rights movement gained full steam in the wake of a June 1969 police raid. Julius’ is the city’s oldest existing gay bar.
Andrew Jackson, a 20-year-old Chelsea man, has been charged with hate-crime assault and gang assault in connection with an attack on three gay men at Ninth Ave. and 25th St. in Chelsea on Oct. 1. Two other suspects are still being sought.
© The Villager
Malmö police have recruited the detective who played a decisive role in apprehending "Laser Man" gunman John Ausonius as a new double shooting has further raised fears of a repeat of 1991's racist attacks.
22/10/2010- The news comes as a further two women were hurt in a new shooting in Malmö on Thursday evening. The women, aged 26 and 34, were shot while in an apartment in the Kroksbäck neighbourhood of the city. "They are immigrants from a European country," said Calle Persson at Skåne police. Detective inspector Eiler Augustsson is credited with having played a decisive role in the investigation and arrest of John Ausonius, who terrorized Stockholm’s immigrant population in the beginning of the 1990s. Ausonius received his "Laser Man" moniker because his victims were targeted with a red dot from a rifle equipped with a laser sight. Police fear that the shootings are the latest in a wave of attacks which are deliberately targeting people of immigrant origin. A total of 50 shootings have been recorded in the city this year, and police fear a number of these may have been carried out by a lone gunman. Aside from the two women, there was also a child in the apartment when the shootings occurred. "The child has been taken care of, I think by relatives," Persson said. The apartment is located on the first floor of the apartment building. The police have completed their forensic inspection of the apartment but are as yet uncertain as to the firearm used. "Forensic evidence has been recovered from the location," said Jesper Ingvert at Malmö police to the local Sydsvenskan daily. While no suspects have yet been identified, police confirm that they have a witness who could have seen the perpetrator. "We have witnesses which we have interviewed. One of the witnesses has seen a man who left the location running," said Ingvert. Malmö police plan to review their resources on Friday morning. "We are going to put together a team here in the morning which will look at our operation in a little longer perspective," said Peter Martinsson at Malmö police.
Integration minister Erik Ullenhag, in an opinion article in the Expressen daily on Friday, called the attacks "alarming". "Everyone has a responsibility to defend the open society where all, regardless of background, can be safe on our streets and town squares," Ullenhag wrote. Ullenhag plans to visit Malmö on Friday to gather information on the atmosphere in the city after the shootings. Meanwhile Juan Fonseca, former MP and head of the Discrimination bureau in Stockholm, has called on "all immigrants and ethnic Swedes" to call a five minute strike next Thursday, in support of the victims. Gellert Tamas, the author of a renowned book about the "Laser Man" attacks told DN on Thursday that there are clear parallels. "John Ausonius has been very clear in the interviews that I have conducted with him that he was inspired by the debate about immigrants which was conducted in the beginning of the 1990s," Tamas told DN. "He felt a moral support, that people stood behind him. But he also felt a political support, from (populist anti-immigrant party) New Democracy primarily, but even from other political parties such as the Sweden Democrats." Between August 1991 to January 1992, Ausonius, today 57, shot 11 people -- most of them immigrants -- in and around Stockholm. He killed one person and seriously wounded the others. He was sentenced to life behind bars in 1994 and remains in prison.
© The Local - Sweden
A man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder for the shooting of two men in Malmö as police continue to investigate two other shootings, all of which occured within two hours of each other on Tuesday night.
20/10/2010- Three men were seriously injured in two shooting incidents, while no victims were reported for a third shooting, all which occurred within a two-hour period overnight in Malmö in southern Sweden. Two men were injured from shots believed to be fired from an automatic weapon at around 12.30am on Wednesday morning in Malmö's Lindängen district. A 19-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Both victims and the alleged assailant are known to the police from previous incidents. "We've ascertained there was some sort of hostility or dispute of some kind that led to the shooting," Malmö police spokesperson Lars-Håkan Lindholm told news agency TT. The injured men, aged 22 and 29, managed to get themselves to an emergency room. One has a leg injury, while the other sustained injuries in the abdomen, but they are reported to be in stable situation.
Separately, police were called to a shooting of a parked car on Sufflörgatan in Malmö's neighbouring Lindeborg district. No one was injured in the gunfire, which was discovered by the car owner a short while later. In addition, a 28-year-old man who was shot in the back while at a bus stop remains in serious condition. The shooting took place earlier on Tuesday night while he waited for a bus on Malmö's Eriksfältsgatan. "His condition is is described as serious but stable," said Lindholm. The police do not see a link between the three shootings. Last Monday, a 47-year-old man was shot at a bus stop in Malmö's Augustenborg district. According to police, there were several aspects from Tuesday night's bus stop shooting on Eriksfältgatan that were reminiscent of Monday shooting. "It was one of the first things that struck us. There are many similarities between the two events," Mats Attin of the Malmö police told newspaper Sydsvenskan. A special task force within the Malmo police have been investigating a total of 13 cases of unsolved shootings, which has since been augmented by the two new incidents.
© The Local - Sweden
TWO DECADES OF NEO-NAZI AND RACIST VIOLENCE IN CENTRAL EUROPE
21/10/2010- The following is a summary of the basic information available regarding neo-Nazi and racist attacks on Roma committed in the Czech Republic and Central Europe. We start with a chronology of last year's arson attack in Vítkov before moving on to a selection of verdicts handed down in other attacks by right-wing extremists against Roma, including arson attacks on Roma homes committed by neo-Nazis and promoters of the extreme right in Germany, Hungary and Slovakia.
19 April - Arsonists throw three Molotov cocktails into the home of a nine-member Roma family in Vítkov. During the subsequent blaze, three people are injured, including a two-year-old girl who suffers burns over 80 % of her body. Her 27-year-old mother and 30-year-old father escape with lesser injuries. The house is completely destroyed. The injured father is later transferred to a hospital in prison, as it is discovered that he has been avoiding serving jail time for a previous offense. Czech Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb asks Czech President Klaus to grant him clemency.
20 April - The government announces the adoption of measures through which the state will start to fight against right-wing extremism. Roma activists and others protest the attack. Then-European Commissioner Vladimír Špidla says the European Commission is disturbed by the rise in violence against Roma in the Czech Republic and the EU as a whole.
22 April - The Vítkov town hall announces a public collection in support of the family.
23 April - Czech President Václav Klaus decides to immediately suspend the prison sentence of the burned girl's injured father. He had previously been convicted of theft, property damage, and driving a car without a license.
25 April - The Roma family receives clothing and other items from a humanitarian collection organized by the Life Together civic association.
29 April - The injured mother's health improves. She is transferred to a regular hospital unit and sees three of her children for the first time since the fire. Her fourth, the two-year-old, is still in a very critical condition.
30 April - Doctors release the father. His partner and daughter remain in hospital.
12 August - Police arrest 12 people in relation to the Vítkov attack, eight of whom are later released.
14 August - Policie charge four right-wing extremists from the Bruntál and Opava districts with racially motivated attempted murder. They are taken into custody. The suspects are all said to be promoters of the extreme right: Jaromír Lukeš and Václav Cojocaru are from Opava, while Ivo Müller and David Vaculík are from Horní Benešov.
4 November - Vaculík is convicted by the District Court in Bruntál of having assaulted audience members at a heavy metal concert in Rýmařov and is given a half-year suspended sentence. In April 2010, an appeals court overturns this verdict.
16 November - The victimized family moves into a new house in Budišov nad Budišovkou, purchased with money from the public collection. A total of CZK 890 000 was donated from around the country and around the world.
Czech President Klaus grants the father of the injured girl clemency.
5 February - The investigation of the arson is completed, police ask the state prosecutor to proceed against the four right-wing extremists.
9 February - The state prosecutor files suit with the Regional Court in Ostrava. Police charge the four men with racially motivated attempted murder against more than one person, one of whom was a minor.
3 May - The Czech government's report on extremist incidents during 2009 mentions the Vítkov arson as the most serious case of the year.
11 May - The trial begins. The proceedings are accompanied throughout by disagreements between the defense attorneys and presiding judge Miloslav Studnička. The defense criticizes Studnička for handling the hearings in what they allege is an illegal manner.
16 September - The court finishes hearing evidence.
5 October - The state prosecutor asks for extraordinary sentencing (between 15 and 25 years in prison) for three defendants. She recommends normal sentencing (15 years) for Ivo Müller.
6 October - During closing arguments, Ivo Müller and Václav Cojocaru apologize to the victims for their crimes.
20 October - The Regional Court in Ostrava sentences the four extremists to extraordinary prison sentences: David Vaculík, Ivo Müller and Jaromír Lukeš 22 years, Václav Cojocaru 20 years, to be served in a maximum-security facility. They will also have to pay many millions of crowns in compensation.
Previous verdicts in cases of right-wing extremist attacks against Roma in the Czech Republic
Murder of a 17-year-old Roma boy in Písek
On 24 September 1993, skinheads attacked a group of Roma in the town of Písek and drove them into the river Otava. A 17-year-old Roma boy drowned during the attack. The case was ruled on by the District, Regional and High Courts. The final verdict was handed down in 1999. Three skinheads received prison sentences of eight years, seven-and-a-half years and six-and-a-half years respectively for racially motivated murder and attempted murder.
Murder of a Roma man in Žďár nad Sázavou
On 14 May 1995, four skinheads attacked a 42-year-old Roma man in his own home in Žďár nad Sázavou. He died as a result of his injuries. The Regional Court in Brno first sentenced Zdeněk Podrázský to 12 years in prison for murder but did not find for racial motivation. A second perpetrator was sentenced to 18 months in prison, while two other juvenile perpetrators were given suspended sentences of six and two months respectively. In 1996, the High Court found for racial motivation and increased the sentences: Podrázský received 13 years and the second perpetrator received 20 months.
Violent death of a Roma man in Orlová-Lutyně
On 17 May 1998, four skinheads attacked a 40-year-old Roma man in Orlová-Lutyně and left him lying in the middle of a road. Several minutes later a police officer ran him over, for which he received a suspended sentence. The man died as a result of his injuries. In 2001, the Ostrava Regional Court sentenced two of the skinheads to three years and one year in prison respectively. The other two skinheads were given suspended sentences. The court qualified the crime as grievous bodily harm resulting in death.
Murder of a 30-year-old Roma man in Svitavý
On 21 July 2001, 22-year-old Vlastimil Pechanec, a known skinhead, verbally attacked a local 30-year-old Roma man at a disco in Svitavý before stabbing him to death. In 2003 the High Court in Prague sentenced Pechanec to 17 years in prison for racially motivated murder. The length of the sentence was determined by the racial motivation of the crime and by the evaluations of experts who labeled Pechanec an unlikely candidate for rehabilitation.
Previous selected verdicts in cases of arson attacks on Roma homes in the Czech Republic
- In February 1996 in the town of Krnov, five youths threw Molotov cocktails into the apartments of two Roma families. Firefighters managed to put out one of the fires. The youths repeated their crime several days later, throwing a Molotov cocktail into another apartment. The Roma family living there managed to put out the fire. In 2002, four of the youths were given suspended sentences, while a fifth was sent to prison for three years.
- In January 1998 a group of perpetrators threw a Molotov cocktail into a Roma family's apartment in Krnov. A 48-year-old woman suffered severe burns and a man was lightly injured. Police charged three youths with the attack. In February 2002 the District Court in Krnov sentenced neo-Nazi Radek Bedrim to two years in prison. His two accomplices were released for lack of evidence.
Previous selected cases of arson committed by neo-Nazis or promoters of the extreme right elsewhere in Central Europe, including verdicts (where reached)
23 November 1992 - Neo-Nazis in the town of Mölln in northern Germany murdered two Turkish women and a 10-year-old girl when they threw Molotov cocktails into two homes. In December 1993, two perpetrators were sentenced to life in prison and 10 years in prison respectively.
28 May 1993 - An arson attack on a building in which Turkish families were living in the town of Solingen in western Germany took the lives of five victims, three women and two little girls. After the attack, angry Turks from all over Germany clashed with police in Solingen for several days. The attack prompted anger abroad and outrage in German officialdom. In October 1994, four young Germans were sentenced to prison sentences of between 10 and 15 years for the arson. The prosecution said they had been motivated by "hatred of foreigners".
25 March 1994 - Unidentified perpetrators threw explosives into a synagogue in Lübeck where six families were living. The subsequent fire was spotted in time, so everyone was saved and no one was injured. In May, police arrested four young right-wing extremists who were then given sentences of between two and four years in prison. It was the first attack on a Jewish synagogue in Germany since the end of WWII. Several other synagogues have been attacked since then.
28 September 1994 - A home for refugees in the town of Herford in northern Germany was intentionally set on fire, killing an 11-year-old boy and his 23-year-old physically disabled sister. Both were from the former Yugoslavia.
21 July 1995 - A group of skinheads in the town of Žiar nad Hronom in Slovakia attacked an 18-year-old Roma man, Mário Goral, poured fuel over him and set him on fire. The youth died as a result of his injuries 11 days later. The main perpetrator was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for racially motivated murder. Two of his accomplices were also sentenced to prison time, while the rest "got away" with suspended sentences.
18 January 1996 - In the town of Lübeck in northern Germany, a fire was intentionally set at a hostel for immigrants and resulted in 10 deaths, including three children. A Lebanese refugee was suspected of the attack but was released in June of the following year for lack of evidence. The state prosecutor had originally charged him with setting the fire for motives of revenge, basing the charges on the testimony of an emergency responder to whom the youth had allegedly confessed. However, from the beginning the defense was of the opinion that the attack had been committed from the outside, by racists. The defense criticized the German justice system for failing to thoroughly investigate initial suspicions that four German skinheads from nearby Grevesmühlen had committed the crime.
April 1996 - In the town of Hontianské Nemce in Slovakia, skinheads set the home of a Roma family on fire, killing one Roma man and injuring three others. The mayor allegedly refused to call police to the scene.
23 February 2009 - A commando unit of right-wing extremists threw Molotov cocktails into a Roma home in the village of Tatarszentgyörgy and then shot the residents as they fled the fire. The father of the family and his five-year-old son were killed. This gruesome crime was part of a series of dozens of similar attacks throughout Hungary during which six Roma were murdered. A group suspected of committing these crimes was arrested in the summer of 2009. All of them belonged to the right-wing nationalist scene. The investigation was completed this past August and the trial should start soon.
fk, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
CZECH COURT GIVES RECORD SENTENCE FOR RACIAL CRIME
20/10/2010- A court in the northeastern Czech city of Ostrava Wednesday gave the country’s longest-ever sentence for a racial crime, finding four Czech neo-Nazi sympathizers guilty of setting fire to a Roma family’s house, in which a two-year-old girl suffered severe burns. After a trial that began in May, the court sentenced the four men to 20 and 22 years in high-security prison for attempted murder and damage to property. They were also sentenced to pay nearly $1 million in damages and hospital costs to the Roma family. All four appealed the sentence. The arson attack on the Romas, or gypsies, happened in the northeastern Czech town of Vitkov on April 19, 2009 — a day before the 120th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s death. The attack stoked fears among the public of growing activity of ultra-right and neo-Nazi groups in the Czech Republic. Most of the Czech society of nearly 11 million have been outraged by the assault that intimidated the country’s largely impoverished and ostracized Roma community, estimated at about 300,000 people.
During the televised trial of the four arsonists, prosecutors showed evidence that the four men, between 22 and 26 years of age, were members or sympathizers of illegal Nazi extremist groups, and that they threw homemade Molotov cocktails at the house with an intention to take lives. “The culprits chose the night, the house and the three centers of the fire with the intention to kill the people in the house, or to make their rescue difficult,” Miloslav Studnicka, a judge from the regional Ostrava court presiding over the trial, said during the sentence delivery. Two adults were injured during the fire, but a toddler named Natalka suffered burns on 80% of her body and was released from hospital care nearly eight months after the attack.The judge went on to describe the crime as explicitly motivated by racial and ethnic hatred. “[Perpetrators] committed the crime (…) in an exceptionally cruel and painful way, on people younger than 15 years of age, and because of their ethnicity,” the judge said.
© The Wall Street Journal
PROSECUTORS ASK FOR HATE CRIME ACQUITTAL (Netherlands)
17/10/2010- Dutch prosecutors have asked judges to acquit anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders on charges of inciting hate and discrimination against Muslims, in a case seen as testing the limits of free speech versus religious freedom. The move signalled their belief that the case against Wilders was weak, although judges could still disagree and convict him. The defence begins its case this week and a verdict is scheduled for next month. Muslims complained to authorities that Wilders crossed the line when, among many slurs, he compared Islam to Nazism and the Koran to Hitler's manifesto, Mein Kampf. Prosecutors told the court there was insufficient proof to convict him of trying to polarise Dutch society into antagonistic groups.
© The Age
A WHIRLWIND OF HATRED AGAINST THE DISABLED (uk, opinion)
Just how far are we, as a society, prepared to let violent crime against the disabled spiral upwards?
By Ian Birrell
16/10/2010- The details are sickening. For three days a gang of 18-year-olds tortured a younger autistic boy. They kicked him, stamped on his head, scraped his skin with sandpaper, pelted him with dog shit, forced him to drink alcohol until he passed out and stuck tape to his genitals. The thugs laughed as they filmed themselves abusing their terrified victim, who can be heard whimpering for mercy. The ordeal only ended when his aunt saw a trainer print on his face. And why did they carry out these vile assaults? Simply because they were bored, they told a court this week. Apparently Jonathan Geake, the so-called judge in the case, sympathised with their predicament. The three assailants were given just 80 hours' unpaid community work and a three-month curfew. No signing of the sex offenders register, despite the sexual overtones to the attack. No jail sentence. No justice. Mencap is now leading a campaign to persuade the attorney general to review this shocking case. But tragically it is not an isolated event. It is just the latest horror story in an epidemic of hate crimes against people with disabilities. The statistics should shame us all. Nine out of 10 people with learning difficulties have suffered bullying or harassment – indeed, even as the thugs from Eccles were being convicted this week, cases emerged of a disabled woman being bottled as she arrived at her home in Essex and a Yorkshire woman tipped from her wheelchair and mugged. And there is at least one trial going on over the killing of a disabled person, with another looming. Three years ago there was outrage after the death of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter after years of abuse. Politicians, police and council chiefs all said never again – then said it again after the death of David Askew earlier this year after similar harassment. Yet a recent report found evidence of 68 violent deaths of disabled people and more than 500 potential disability hate crimes over the past three years.
There is no official data on hate crimes against the disabled, since the government does not think it is worth publishing. One helpline has fielded a near-doubling in the number of calls from disabled victims this year, but there have been just 576 prosecutions over the last two years, compared with 11,264 for racial and religious crimes over the last year alone. We need to wake up to this whirlwind of hate, driven by fear of difference and a symptom of a society that fails to embrace those with disabilities. Communities must look out for those in need of help. Teachers must stop tolerating hateful language and bullying. Police and council officials must tackle the low-level abuse that devastates life for so many – and, as in the Pilkington and Askew cases, can end up with a funeral. We recognise the need to confront racist and homophobic abuse, but tolerate it against people with disabilities. Indeed, just as judges once told rape victims to cross their legs, teachers tell disabled pupils to toughen up, police tell people in wheelchairs that being abused is a fact of life, and local authorities move those who are harassed rather than their assailants. And in court, the evidence of people with learning difficulties is ignored: nearly three times as many prosecutions for disability hate crimes fail as compared with all other crimes. In Manchester this weekend there are three sadistic young men swaggering around, no doubt still laughing, not least at how they escaped jail. And in another part of Britain their scarred victim is trying to rebuild his life, having being forced to move home as punishment for being tortured. Is this really the kind of country we want to live in?
The author is the father of a child with profound learning difficulties
© Comment is free - Guardian
Headlines 15 October, 2010
PILGRIMAGE CHURCH WALLS SMEARED WITH ANTI-ISLAM SLOGANS (Austria)
11/10/2010- Police are investigating after the walls of Austria’s most important pilgrimage site were defaced with anti-Islamic statements. Police in Mariazell, Styria, said today (Mon) the graffiti on the outside wall of the Mariazell Basilica was 30 metres long and one metre high. The slogans read "Der Koran ist dem Teufel seine Bibel" (Koran is the bible of the devil) and "Am Horizont taucht der Teufel auf" (The devil appears on the horizon"). They said the attack must have occurred between Saturday night and Sunday morning, adding that the provincial department for the protection of the constitution and the fight against terrorism was heading the investigation. The church is Austria’s best known pilgrimage site and a major tourist attraction. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world visit it every year. The attack comes as the province of Styria is engaged in a bitter war of words following the publication of a controversial online computer game.
The Styrian branch of the Freedom Party (FPÖ) caused outcry among NGOs and the Green Party by launching a game called "Moschee ba ba" (Bye, bye mosque) in which the player is asked to target mosques, minarets and muezzins. The party was forced to take the disputed game offline after a few days. However the game briefly re-emerged on an internet discussion forum run by Austrian and German neo-Nazis via a server in the United States. FPÖ Styria boss Gerhard Kurzmann’s immunity was lifted by prosecutors after the Greens reported him for agitation following the publication of the game. Yet his party apparently benefited from the heated debate about the game. In last month’s provincial elections it garnered 10.7 per cent (2005: 4.6 per cent). The Greens improved by just 0.8 per cent to 5.6 per cent. Greens front runner Werner Kogler accused the FPÖ of doing nothing than "creating fear and hatred among people" by calling for a stop of "mass integration from Muslim countries".
Kogler stressed that there were no mosques featuring minarets in the province, adding that the Muslim community in Styria had no plans to build any. Around half a million of the 8.5 million people living in Austria are Muslims, but there are just four mosques with minarets in the country. The online shooter game was created shortly after Anas Schakfeh, president of the Austrian Islamic Denomination (IGGiÖ), called for mosques with minarets to be built in all nine provincial capitals of the country. Public opinion research agency Karmasin found last month that a majority of 52 per cent opposed the idea. The Medical University of Styrian capital Graz (MUG) became the first university in Austria to partially ban veils last month. Managers of the (MUG) decided to prohibit wearing veils that disguise women’s faces in seminars and exams, while students would still be allowed to wear veils in lectures. They stressed the new ruling had no political background but was "purely based on pragmatic reasons".
© The Austrian Times
EU DIPLOMATS ATTEND BELGRADE MARCH AMID VIOLENT CLASHES (Serbia)
11/10/2010- Several EU diplomats came out in support of Belgrade Pride on Sunday (10 October) as nationalist gangs battled police and vandalised property a few blocks away in the Serb capital. The head of the EU delegation to Serbia (French diplomat Vincent Degert), the Dutch ambassador to Serbia, the German deputy ambassador and diplomats from the Austrian, Spanish, Swedish and UK missions all turned out to join the crowd of between 1,000 and 1,500 Pride marchers. Mr Degert opened the event in the Majek park with a short speech. "We are here to celebrate this very important day ... to celebrate the values of tolerance, freedom of expression and assembly," he said. The march itself took place peacefully in a tiny three-block-large area of the city centre.
But the roughly 5,000 riot police deployed to protect it clashed violently with anti-Pride demonstrators in the nearby Slavia Square, Prince Michael Street and outside the Democratic Party headquarters. The gangs of mostly young men hurled fire-bombs, rocks and bottles injuring around 120 policemen, three of whom seriously with wounds to the head. Around 20 counter-demonstrators were also injured. One Pride participant was beaten up on the way home after the event. The crowd also started a fire at a garage belonging to the Democratic Party, smashed windows in the Austrian embassy, overturned a car outside the French mission, looted shops and tried to storm the parliament. Police as of Monday morning had made over 300 arrests with the help of CCTV footage, with Belgrade authorities vowing to crack down hard on offenders, who face up to eight years in prison. "Serbia will ensure the protection of human rights for all its citizens, regardless of their differences, and any violent attempts to deny them these freedoms will not be allowed to proceed," Serbia's pro-Western President Boris Tadic said in a statement, with the violence occurring just two days before a visit by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to his country. One of the event organisers, Lazar Pavlovic, told this website by phone on Monday that the upheaval is a show of strength by nationalist and anti-EU elements in Serbian politics as well as a sign of the high level of violence in Serbian society in general.
"This was a representation of their strength. If the state wants to go forward toward the EU, it will have to struggle against this kind of nationalism," he said. "For the past 10 years the state has not taken seriously the problem of violence at all levels of Serbian society. It is not just about the gay parade - these people look for any reason to go out on the streets and to fight with the police, to smash up shops." "The participation of people from abroad, from EU institutions and embassies, was very important to us. The fight for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] rights is the same as the fight for EU values," he added. Linda Freimane, the co-chair of the Brussels-based campaign group, ILGA-Europe, who also attended the event on Sunday, noted in an op-ed for EUobserver that violence was also the norm at gay rallies in Western Europe not so long ago. "Nowhere did Pride parades start out as the festive events we are now used to in cities such as London, Paris, Berlin or Brussels. Initially, it has always been the courageous few who decided to become visible and to demand equal rights and justice," she said.
© The EUobserver
FOUR TEENAGERS ON HATE CRIME CHARGE ACCUSED OF BEATING MUSLIM CLASSMATE THEY CALLED A TERRORIST (usa)
13/10/2010- Four teenagers were facing hate crime charges today for allegedly bullying a Muslim classmate in their New York school. The victim, now 16, was said to have been subjected to a harrowing ordeal in which he was frequently labelled a 'terrorist', punched in the groin and was spat in the face. It was the latest example of a spate of hate crimes which have shocked New York, after it emerged last week that a Bronx gang tortured two teenagers and an adult for being gay. New York Police Department arrested three 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old over the year-long hate campaign, which ended in June when the victim left his school in Staten Island. They were charged with assault and aggravated harassment as a hate crime and will appear in court. Now in high school, the victim, identified only as Kristian, finally told his parents about the bullying when he learned some of his alleged tormentors were also joining his new school. The parents - who emigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad in the 1980s - lodged a complaint with police who arrested the boys on Sunday. Kristian told the New York Daily News: '[They] punched me in my groin, and I fell to the floor. They started kicking me, and calling me 'You f****** terrorist,' 'You f****** Muslim.'
He said the abuse began in October last year while a pupil at the Edwin Markham Intermediate School where he was beaten for his Muslim heritage and blamed for terrorist bombings. 'I was very scared that if I told the teachers...they would beat me up more,' Kristian said. He said he remained silent, hoping they would stop and added: 'It kept going on. The kids were in my class and they would see me in the halls.' One of the teenage thugs allegedly attacked him in class, in front of a teacher. '[He] touched me here and here,' he said, pointing to his left elbow and forehead. The teacher scolded the bully, saying, '"Why did you do that for? He's a good boy. Leave him alone. Why do you keep bothering him?'"' Outside the classroom, the boy's treatment was even worse. 'Four kids punched me everywhere. They would spit in my face, and kick and punch me. I had injuries,' Kristian said. Once he was kicked so hard he had blood in his urine and had to go and see his doctor, it was claimed. His father, whose first name is Shaffiate, said Kristian, a once-promising student and gifted piano player, has given up music and his grades have suffered. 'He's afraid to go outside alone,' the father said.
© The Daily Mail
ISLAMIC CENTER MEMBERS SAY THEY'RE VICTIMS OF A HATE CRIME (usa)
12/10/2010- Someone defaced the Florence Islamic Center on North Edisto Drive in Florence Sunday afternoon. The culprit used slices of bacon to spell out the words "PIG CHOPS" on the brick walkway of the mosque. The parishoners are Muslim and don't eat pork. Florence Police are investigating. Members of the center tell NewsChannel 15 this is the second time in a few months that someone has vandalized their house of worship. Earlier this year, vandals broke new windows in the facility. The Florence Islamic Center has been on North Edisto Drive for nearly three years. Parishoners say it's a work in progress, as they are renovating the facility bit by bit. About 30 families worship at the mosque. They believe the person who defaced their property doesn't understand what the Muslim religion is all about. The facility is also used during the week as a school to study their religion. Members say police have indicated they will step up patrols around the center. We're waiting to hear from Florence Police Chief Anson Shells to get more details.
© Carolina Live
LURED INTO A TRAP, THEN TORTURED FOR BEING GAY (usa)
9/10/2010- He was told there was a party at a brick house on Osborne Place, a quiet block set on a steep hill in the Bronx. He showed up last Sunday night as instructed, with plenty of cans of malt liquor. What he walked into was not a party at all, but a night of torture — he was sodomized, burned and whipped. All punishment, the police said Friday, for being gay. There were nine attackers, ranging from 16 to 23 years old and calling themselves the Latin King Goonies, the police said. Before setting upon their 30-year-old victim, they had snatched up two teenage boys whom they beat, the police said — until the boys — one of whom was sodomized with a plunger — admitted to having had sex with the man. The attackers forced the man to strip to his underwear and tied him to a chair, the police said. One of the teenage victims was still there, and the “Goonies” ordered him to attack the man. The teenager hit him in the face and burned him with a cigarette on his nipple and penis as the others jeered and shouted gay slurs, the police said. Then the attackers whipped the man with a chain and sodomized him with a small baseball bat. The beatings and robberies went on for hours. They were followed by a remarkably thorough attempt to sanitize the house — including pouring bleach down drains, the police said, as little by little word of the attacks trickled to the police. A crucial clue to the attackers was provided by someone who slipped a note to a police officer outside the crime scene, at 1910 Osborne Place in Morris Heights, near Bronx Community College.
Seven suspects were arrested on Thursday and Friday, and two were still being sought in a crime that the leader of the City Council called among the worst hate crimes she had ever heard of. “It makes you sick,” said the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, the city’s highest ranking openly gay official. The charges included abduction, unlawful imprisonment and sodomy, all as hate crimes. “These suspects deployed terrible, wolf-pack odds of nine against one, which revealed them as predators whose crimes were as cowardly as they were despicable,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at a news conference. The assaults are the latest in a string of recent episodes of bullying and attacks against gays. A Rutgers University student jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge last month, prosecutors said, after his roommate had secretly set up a webcam in their room and streamed over the Internet his sexual encounter with another man. Two men were accused of robbing and beating a man in the Stonewall Inn, a landmark gay bar in Greenwich Village, last weekend while shouting slurs. Neighbors on Osborne Place said the house, nondescript but for its door painted a bright lime green, had been vacant for some time. A group of teenagers and young men had moved in as squatters, neighbors said, and hosted loud parties. “You could smell it from them,” said a neighbor who gave only his last name, Gomez. “From the start, you could tell they were trouble.” Mr. Gomez said he and other neighbors had discussed whether anything could be done about the squatters, but nothing came of it.
The nine suspects — the group seemed not so much part of an established gang as a loose group of friends who adopted a nickname — knew some or all three victims. The idea for the attacks seemed to have been hatched last Saturday, after one member of the group saw the 30-year-old man, who he knew was gay, with a 17-year-old who wanted to join the gang, the police said. Hours later, at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, the group grabbed the 17-year-old, took him to the house and slammed him into a wall, the police said. He was beaten, made to strip naked, slashed with a box cutter, hit on the head with a can of beer and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger, the police said. And he was interrogated about the 30-year-old and asked if they had had sex. The teenager said that they had. The gang members set him loose, warning him to keep quiet or they would hurt his friends and family. The teenager walked into a nearby hospital and said he had been jumped by strangers on the street and robbed. At 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, the police said, the group members grabbed a second 17-year-old, beating and likewise interrogating him about his contact with the 30-year-old. He, too, said he had had sex with the man. They took his jewelry and held him while the 30-year-old arrived for what he thought was a party, his arms filled with 10 tall cans of Four Loko, a caffeine-infused malt liquor. He had cleaned out a store of its entire stock. He was immediately set upon and tied up. Then the assailants ordered the second teenager to attack the 30-year-old, and they joined in the beating. The beating lasted hours, the police said. The attackers forced the man to drink all 10 cans of liquor — each about twice the size of a can of beer, with a higher alcohol content, 10 percent to 12 percent, according to Four Loko’s Web site.
While the man was held captive and attacked, five of the Latin King Goonies went to his house, which he shared with his 40-year-old brother. Using a key taken from the 30-year-old to get inside, they found his brother in bed. They pulled a blanket over his head and hit him, demanding money. When he refused, one placed a cellphone to the brother’s ear, and he heard the voice of his younger brother, who said he had been kidnapped and who pleaded, “Give them the money.” The brother complied. The men took $1,000 in cash, two debit cards and a 52-inch television. The brother managed to free himself about three hours later, and he called the police, leaving out the fact that his brother was being held. By then it was Monday morning. Detectives went to the brothers’ home and, upon leaving, saw the 30-year-old, passed out on the landing from the alcohol he had consumed. But having no reason to believe he had been a victim of a crime, they did not question him. Detectives returned later that day, suspicious of how the robbers had entered the brothers’ home without using force, and the 30-year-old told them he had been picked up in a van by strangers and forced to give them his keys and address, the police said. Officers still had no idea about the first teen who had visited the hospital, because he had not called the police, and hospitals are not required to inform the authorities about assaults, the police said. The man had said he was robbed near 1910 Osborne, and police officers tried to obtain a search warrant for the house but were told they did not have enough cause, the police said.
Late on Tuesday the second teenager walked into a Bronx police station house and gave a version of what had happened, the police said. None of the three victims, in their first interviews with the police, were fully forthcoming, fearing reprisal and wanting to keep their lives a secret. But the second teenager gave an address, and a second request for a search warrant was granted. On Wednesday morning, officers entered 1910 Osborne Place and found a surprising sight: an immaculate house, with fresh coats of paint and the smell of bleach hanging thick in the air. One detective called the house “the cleanest crime scene I’ve ever seen,” Mr. Kelly said. “Lots of bleach and paint were used to cover the blood shed by their tortured prey,” he said. “They even poured bleach down the drains.” Rugs and linoleum had been ripped out. Detectives were able to scrape evidence, including pubic hair and empty liquor cans, from the house, but not much was found, Mr. Kelly said. The break in the case came later Wednesday when someone in a crowd of onlookers outside the house quietly slipped an officer his phone number and, when a detective called, gave the name of the man believed to be the ringleader of the group of nine: Ildefonzo Mendez, 23. Officers later learned the name of the first victim from the other teenager. By Wednesday night, all three victims had given full accounts of the attacks, and for the next 36 hours, officers with the Hate Crimes Task Force, the Gang Division and Special Victims squad worked up a list of nine suspects. Arrests began Thursday.
The other suspects under arrest were identified as David Rivera, 21; Nelson Falu, 17; Steven Carballo, 17; Denis Peitars, 17; Bryan Almonte, 17; and Brian Cepeda, 16. They were being held by the police in the Bronx on Friday night, with no arraignment scheduled. Still being sought, the police said, are Elmer Confessor, 23, and Ruddy Vargas-Perez, 22. One suspect confessed, a law enforcement official said, others have not given statements. One suspect was taken to the hospital unconscious Friday night, with an undisclosed medical problem.
© The New York Times
Headlines 8 October, 2010
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP IN TURKEY PUSHES FOR HATE CRIME LEGISLATION
6/10/2010- With hate crimes increasingly a problem in Turkey, civil society groups are working to highlight the issue in order to draft legislation that will both prevent more crimes and protect its victims. “Unfortunately, incidents of hate crime are on the rise. They vary from religious and ethnic intolerance to intolerance of differences related to disability and gender,” said Hakan Ataman, secretary-general of the Human Rights Agenda Association (HRAA) in Ankara. Mentioning the most publicized examples of such crimes, Ataman cites the killing of Father Andrea Santoro, a Catholic priest who was murdered in Trabzon in 2006; the assassination of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist shot dead in front of his newspaper in 2007; and the brutal killings of three missionaries in Malatya three months after Dink’s murder. “The perpetrators of these crimes had traits in common: They were mostly under 18 and no older than 19, and they had ties to well-known ultranationalist groups,” he said. Later, a Catholic priest was stabbed in the stomach during a service at a Catholic church in Ýzmir. In other cities, police successfully prevented attempted murders. There have also been attempted lynchings of some groups considered “the other” by some segments of society. “Roma and Kurdish migrants and gays and lesbians have been victims of such crimes,” Ataman said.
He explained that no consistent data exist in Turkey regarding hate crimes, which is a fairly new term for the society, and that information on this matter is primarily collected by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) based on incident reports mostly gathered from civil society groups. The partial protection of victims is possible because Article 122 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) bans discrimination. Furthermore, other laws introduce protective measures regarding women and the disabled. “What makes hate crimes distinct is the use of violence against some persons because of prejudice toward their religion, identity, language or gender. We can even add this use of violence because of intolerance shown to others’ worldview and economic and social background. Although the TCK bans discrimination, no legislation specifically deals with hate crimes, which currently have no penalties associated with them,” he said. This is why the HRAA is working on the legal aspect of the issue. It hopes to get legislation passed to prevent more hate crimes and to protect victims of those crimes. “Without the guarantee of the law, social measures are not enough,” he said, adding that social policies should also not be ignored. “Social policies include education on the issue and politicians and leaders using careful language,” he said. “In addition to assisting victims, we aim to create awareness on the issue so both the government and other political parties will consider the issue seriously.” Ataman also said that even civil society groups have only recently become aware of the issue.
The HRAA is working to bring together nongovernmental organizations, the government and the OSCE in Ankara in November to concentrate on hate crimes and what needs to be done in the legal and social arenas. As a part of its ongoing reform of legislation, the Turkish government is working on drafting anti-discrimination legislation, and human rights groups are working intensely on the issue to have the most comprehensive law passed. The OSCE defines hate crime as having two elements: A criminal offense must first be committed, and the crime must have been committed with the motive of bias. Hate speech comprises “all forms of expressions which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance,” according to the Council of Europe. Hate crimes have not been widely studied in Turkey. One recent study in that regard is titled “Hate speech and hate crimes: Wounding words and acts,” completed by the Hrant Dink International Foundation, which organized a conference on the topic on April 9-11. The study, which looked into 24 newspapers with high circulation figures, found that the most targeted groups were Turkish citizens of Kurdish and Armenian ethnicity. Greeks, Christians in general and Jews were also often the subjects of news stories or columns that contained hate speech. The study considered bad language, defamation, insult, animosity, use of wartime discourse, exaggeration, ascription, distortion and stereotyping while examining the articles.
© Today's Zaman
THREE MEN SUSPECTED OF ARSON ATTACK FACE EXTRAORDINARY SENTENCES (Czech Rep.)
5/10/2010- State attorney Brigita Bilikova yesterday proposed prison sentences from 15 to 25 years to three men charged with racially-motivated arson in a house inhabited by a Romany family in Vitkov, north Moravia. The fourth indicted man faces a penalty of under 15 years in prison. The verdict is expected to be delivered in 14 days. According to the charges, David Vaculik, Ivo Mueller, Vaclav Cojocaru and Jaromir Lukes attacked the house in Vitkov, inhabited by a four-member Romany family, with Molotov cocktails on April 19, 2009. In the subsequent fire, three people were injured, including then two-year-old girl who suffered serious burns on 80 percent of her body. Doctors call her survival, after a series of operations, a miracle. According to the state attorney, the arsonists took the step to promote right-wing extremism and mark Adolf Hitler's 120th birth anniversary.
"Evidently, the defendants did all they could to make the house residents burn to death or at least to sustain serious injuries," Bilikova said in the statement for the prosecution. "They wanted to highlight their ideology and support the activities of their fellow militants. They wanted to create an atmosphere of fear among Romanies," Bilikova added. She demands the stiffest penalty for David Vaculik, calling him one of the organisers. Bilikova has proposed that the penalty be over 20 years in prison, pointing to his behaviour during the trial. She said he had never shown any regret, behaving cynically during the investigation. "Perhaps he considers himself a hero," Bilikova said. She proposed a somewhat lower, but still an exceptional prison sentence or more than 15 years for Jaromir Lukes. She said he had planned the raid from the beginning, having selected the house in question.
It was clearly proven during the investigation that Lukas was bored with neo-Nazi marches and wanted to mastermind something bigger, Bilikova said, adding that she proposed a penalty of about 20 years in prison. He, too, voiced no regret, Bilikova said. On the other hand, Vaclav Cojocaru, the youngest defendant, did voice some regret during the trial, Bilikova said, adding that she did not trust him. "He tries to put on the face of a decent boy. However, the regret is only superficial," Bilikova said, adding that according to experts, Cojocaru was among the slightly radical members of the raiding commando. She said this was why she had proposed a stiff penalty for him, too, but under the 20-year limit. Bilikova said she had proposed the lowest penalty, in the basic category, for Ivo Mueller. "He was the only one to have confessed and to regret his conduct. Although he is an arduous neo-Nazi, he is aware of the consequences of his behaviour," Bilikova said.
Under her proposal, Mueller is to spend 15 years in prison. Bilikova several times repeated in her statement that the defendants had had a clear intention to assail the house inhabited by Romanies and then they wanted to kill them. "This was confirmed in his testimony by Mueller who said that all in the car (in which they came to the scene) knew they were going to attack Gypsies," she added. Lukes disclosed his intentions to his friends. "At first, this was to take place one week later. However, the boys were too nervous," Lukes said, adding that they had been looking for the right house for about three months. These statements were recorded by police wiretapping.
© The Prague Daily Monitor