PRAGUE (Nov. 11)
Czech police have charged a teen-age skinhead with stabbing a Jewish soldier.
The 17-year-old suspect was charged under the country’s hate crimes laws with attempting racially motivated murder and promoting fascism. Since the accused was a minor at the time of the alleged crime, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The executive secretary of the Federation of Czech Jewish Communities said he believed the attack was the first anti-Semitic criminal act since the fall of communism in 1989.
“It’s a very alarming incident,” said Tomas Kraus.
The Czech press reported that the youth stabbed the 22-year-old soldier at a Prague restaurant in the early hours of Nov. 8. The soldier was reported to be in stable condition in a Prague hospital.
“There are two victims,” said Kraus. “This young Jewish man — and the one who attacked him. He is a victim of a certain ideology, and to be in prison for 10 years will ruin his life.”
Kraus said the incident could be a result of the failure of the Czech justice system to punish crimes against Romanies, or Gypsies.
Penalties against skinheads have been “mild,” said Kraus. As a result, skinheads have more courage, he added.
The Czech Republic has been widely criticized for failing to bring to justice skinheads accused of violence against Romanies, the country’s most visible ethnic minority.
Last month, a Czech court handed down suspended sentences of 15 to 22 months against four underage skinheads accused of beating a Romany father of six and leaving him in a road, where he was killed by a truck. They were convicted of a racially motivated crime, but were never charged with murder or manslaughter.
Skinheads reportedly celebrated outside the courtroom when that verdict was handed down.