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Friday, 4 February 2011

Retrial for neo-Nazi promoters in the Czech Republic

The trial of eight people charged in the Czech Republic with promoting and supporting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms will have to be repeated. Judge Věra Bártová has had to recuse herself as the result of a motion filed at the end of December. Libor Vávra, president of the Prague 1 District Court, told the Czech Press Agency today that he will be presiding over the trial from now on. The case concerns allegations of promoting neo-Nazism and the group called National Resistance (Národní odpor - NO) and organizing neo-Nazi events.

Bártová's recusal is the result of criticisms voiced by the K213 association, which told the court her previous membership in the Communist Party was "incompatible with the fair trial of the so-called neo-Nazis". Bártová admitted to her previous membership in the party in her recusal, writing that as a result of the criticism that she would be incapable of objectivity "she feels so negatively influenced by the conclusions and opinions directed against her that she cannot responsibly guarantee the maximum degree of objective decision-making which is one of the fundamental principles of her work."

The case for the prosecution describes four crimes; the accused have told the court they are innocent. The first crime was allegedly committed by five people: Former chair of the Prague organization of the banned Workers' Party (Dělnická strana - DS), Patrik Vondrák; former DS party member Michaela Dupová; Richard Lang; DS candidate in the EP elections Petr Fryč; and Filip Vávra. They are said to have posted NO promotion materials in the center of Prague during the evening of 4 December 2008.

Six people (Vondrák, Dupová, Lang, the former chair of the DS regional organization in Vysočina, Milan Hroch, former DS member Martin Václavek and Daniel Zavadil) are also charged with organizing and holding a gathering and march on 6 June 2009 in Jihlava which town officials had to disperse immediately after it began. The event had been advertised as a memorial march to honor the memory of victims of the Second World War, but its real aim, according to the case file, was to honor the memory of the fallen soldiers of the Wehrmacht and SS. The prosecution charges that the event was planned by Hroch and Lang and announced to the town hall by Zavadil, whose deputy was Václavek. Lang allegedly arranged for a funeral wreath and was present at the event as an organizer, while Dupová agreed with Lang to provide drums and another wreath. Those scheduled to speak at the event were Herbert Schweiger, a veteran of Adolf Hitler's Leibstandarte SS division, and Austrian nationalist Gottfried Küssel. Vondrák is charged with inviting and transporting them to the Czech Republic.

Dupová is also charged with two other crimes. According to the case file, she participated in creating and running the website Resistance Women Unity (RWU), which police say is the women's branch of NO. The prosecution claims she was the administrator of the website and posted articles there authored by herself and others. The state prosecutor says those texts disseminated and promoted Nazi and neo-Nazi ideology. She is also charged with participating in organizing and holding a white power music concert to benefit neo-Nazis who were either being sought by the law or had been sentenced to prison. The concert took place in February 2009 in Srby (Kladno district) and was attended by about 120 people. The prosecution alleges Dupová was aware that the audience and performers would be disseminating the ideology of Nazism and neo-Nazism during the concert and celebrating the NO.

Experts in right-wing extremism say Lang is linked to the NO, while police say Hroch is also actively engaged in its activities. Experts say Vávra, who recently invited former Ku-Klux-Klan leader David Duke to the Czech Republic, was also connected to NO. Vávra admitted to the court that he was a radical at the start of the 1990s, but is said to have gradually become more moderate.