Three men suspected of arson attack face extraordinary sentences

6 October 2010

Ostrava, North Moravia, Oct 5 (CTK) – 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.

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