PHOTO: CHRIS TOGNERI
In August of this year, a pogrom was attempted on the Červeňák family in the town of Nýrsko na Klatovsku. Seven people have been charged in relation to the incident so far. Two aggressive ultra-right extremists chased the Romani family's children through the streets, burst into their apartment and attacked them with a baseball bat. The family, understandably, defended themselves. In addition to charging the skinheads, criminal justice authorities have now filed charges against some of the Romani family members over the incident.
"It is very strange that charges have also been filed against those who were merely defending themselves against this brutal, racist attack. We will be following every detail of the course of this trial," Zdeněk Ryšavý, executive director of the ROMEA association, told news server Romea.cz.
Police did not initiate prosecutions in the case until now, four months after the crime was committed, reportedly because it took them that long to obtain expert witness evaluations as to the seriousness of the injuries suffered by those involved in the skirmish. "We have charged two men with committing racially motivated violence against members of a particular group and another five with rioting," Antonín Šmíd, head of the criminal investigation police in Klatovy, told the daily Právo. Should they be found guilty, the racists face up to three years in prison. Their five Romani victims could receive up to two years.
The Červeňák family have lived in harmony with their neighbors for 30 years in Nýrsko, but in August the otherwise placid atmosphere on Tyršovo street was transformed into a bloody battlefield. The two racists attacked the Červeňák home armed with a baseball bat. After almost half an hour of brawling, the perpetrators fled after receiving a thrashing. However, they subsequently sent a message to the Romani family that they would avenge themselves and that everyone in the family would "croak". The Červeňáks, fearing for their lives, locked themselves in their home and haven't left it.
"We send a white girl to do our shopping. We are terrified. We don't know what might happen," Anna Červeňáková said in August. "It would never have occurred to me that they would choose to attack us. We have no disputes with anyone, we behave respectably, we get along with everyone here. We are not brawlers or criminals, we go to work normally like everyone else," the 60-year-old Romani woman added.
The attack happened at around 5 PM. "The children ran in from outside and said skinheads were chasing them. A few moments later the doorbell rang. My niece opened the window and a 100-kg hulk with a shaved head shook his baseball bat at her from the street. She quickly shut the window and then we heard banging on the door," Miroslav Červeňák recalls. He summoned all his courage and opened the door to find out what was going on.
"I was punched the minute I opened the door. Then they grabbed me and dragged me about 50 meters. I shouted for help. The only thing I can remember is lying on the ground unable to breathe. They had wrapped a sweatshirt around my throat and were pulling it tighter and tighter. I totally lost consciousness," the 29-year-old man recalls of those dramatic moments. His mother was the first to come to his aid.
"I grabbed the baseball bat out of the one skinhead's hand and struck the one who was strangling my son on the spine. It didn't help. Míra was completely white, his eyes were rolled back in his head and he wasn't moving. I was afraid they would kill him. I started to scream hysterically," Anna Červeňáková described the sequence of events.
The family's grandchildren woke up Anna's husband, who also joined the skirmish. "I jumped on the more aggressive brawler and twisted his leg with all my strength. That helped and he let our boy go. He shouted at us that we were 'black swine' and that they had come to kill us," Vojtěch Červeňák said. By then other members of the family were on the scene and the balance of forces began to shift. "As soon as I regained consciousness, I took the baseball bat from Mom and struck the assailant who had strangled me several times in the head," Miroslav Červeňák said.
Both assailants fled in the end, with the words "fuck 'em". The daily Právo reports that they got into an accident while leaving town. The driver was unable to control the vehicle and ran into a concrete barrier. It was later determined that he had almost two parts per mille alcohol in his blood.
Local daily Klatovský deník reported that the perpetrator who had been hit with the baseball bat on the upper part of his body ended up in the hands of physicians. "Police called us to the scene of the accident. A man born in 1988 was transported with head injuries to Klatovská Hospital for surgery," said Lenka Ptáčková, regional emergency medical services spokesperson.
"My son is home from the hospital. I am unable to explain what happened. I have never heard of my son having any problems with Romani people, he definitely is not a racist," said the mother of the injured man. She herself is engaged in a rather important position in the district.