Burning a Roma to death not seen as a racist crime

Lenka Smyčková and Tomáš Fránek
24. 11. 2007 20:00
Young man gets 13 years in jail for the cruel murder
Payback time
Payback time | Foto: Atiila Racek

Brno - Burning a Roma man to death is not a racist crime, but a very cruel murder, a court ruled earlier this week.

The main perpetrator of the heinous act, in which a young homeless Roma lost his life, will spend 13 and a half years in prison. 

The other three co-accused men received suspended sentences of one year in jail. According to the court, there was no evidence that the murder had a racist motive. The judge confirmed though, that it was an extremely tormentous act.

"The undertone might have been racist, but there is no evidence for it. I dare to say, that if Tóth was two-meter tall and aggressive, and if each of these defendants would stand in front of him alone, no one would dare to harm him," the judge said.

How it unfolded

It was not the case, though, on May 17 this year, when the group of four young drunken men surrounded Ján Tóth, a 26-year-old Roma, known as "Lapin", behind a department store in the Moravian city of Hodonín.

Foto: Aktuálně.cz

They started to beat him and then one of the attackers doused the victim with toluene, which was found in his possession.

"It was supposed to be revenge. Some time before that another drug-addict attacked us," Michal Vala, one of the aggressors, told the court.

In the end, one of them took out a lighter and set the homeless guy on fire.

"The flames engulfed him and we retreated. I thought that I would cause him serious injury, not that he would die," the leader of the group, twenty-one year old, unemployed Juraj Lukáš told the court in Brno.

The aggressors then went to a nearby pizza place and continued drinking as if nothing happened. Badly burnt Ján Tóth was later found by passersby who tried to help him, but it was too late.

The Roma sustained heavy burns on his head, body and airways and died in a specialized hospital in Brno despite all attempts to save him, five days later.

I'm so sorry
I'm so sorry | Foto: Atiila Racek

Prosecutor: No apparent racist motive

State prosecutor suggested the four be punished for being drunk and disorderly and for life attacking conduct. Juraj Lukáš was then found guilty of murder.

"Even though I have a resaon to believe that the defendants are members of skinhead movement or some other extremist group, I do not propose to qualify their act as racist. It wasn't determined that they attacked the victim first and foremost for his ethnic origin," the prosecutor said.

Lukáš expressed regret over what he had done and said he would mend his ways. "After serving the sentence, I will work properly and behave," he promised.

"(But) he didn't try to undo what he did. He didn't try to put out the fire or give Tóth first aid. After the police arrived, he went into hiding. And he only confessed after the charges had been brought against him," the judge said.

 

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Zdroj: ČTK
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