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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Czech neo-Nazi on trial for fraud

The trial began in Ostrava today of David Dembinski, once a leading figure in the neo-Nazi movement in Karviná district and a well-known organizer and provocateur of anti-Roma marches. Dembinski is not being charged with a violent crime this time, as he was in the Stodolní street shooting case, but with committing fraud to the tune of CZK 6 million. The Czech daily Právo reports on the case at http://www.novinky.cz/krimi/241837-byvaly-vudce-neonacistu-na-karvinsku-pred-soudem-za-milionovy-podvod.html?ref=boxD .

David Dembinski is one of the main founders of the National Resistance (Národní odpor - NO) organization in Silesia, which organizes ultra-right demonstrations against the Roma in Karviná district in particular. For example, Dembinski organized a right-wing extremist march the town of Orlová that intentionally targeted a housing estate occupied by Romani people. He was also involved in Miroslav Sládek's Republican Party, even running for municipal elections on the party ticket. He later became an entrepreneur, but his business dealings were always on the edge of legality.

Dembinski is currently serving time for extensive credit fraud. An armed escort accompanied him from prison in Plzeň to the Regional Court in Ostrava today. The state prosecutor has charged Dembinski with defrauding a private firm of auto parts and fuel worth more than CZK 6 million in 2008.

"Between 15 February 2008 and 12 March 2009, the defendant received CZK 6 172 948 worth of auto parts and fuel from a vendor. It is unknown what he did with the goods he took, and he never paid the invoices for the items delivered even after multiple urgings," Lucie Böhmová, spokesperson for the court, said of the case.

In 2009, Dembinski faced trial in Ostrava District Court for an incident in Stodolní street where he shot a business owner in front of a bar with an illegally obtained weapon, supposedly as part of a settling of scores. The prosecution alleged Dembinski had also used violence to force a restaurant owner to sign his business over to him.

The prosecution charged that would-be "entrepreneur" Dembinski fired a single round at another business owner in front of the "Divoké kočky" bar, allegedly because the man owed him money. The shot clipped the 33-year-old man from Olomouc in the left shoulder. The injury was not serious and his medical treatment lasted two weeks.

Dembinski refused to testify during the trial but had previously denied firing the round in Stodolní street. He claims he was in Slovakia at the time, which he has been unable to prove. However, he explained that somehow it was his work vehicle that was at the scene of the crime. The shooter exited the vehicle to fire the round and then drove off. "I don't have anything to do with it. I have never had or owned a weapon," he said.

Prior to the start of the trial, the judge indicated she was concerned that the witnesses summoned might lack discipline. "Some of them never retrieved their writs of summons. Others are afraid to testify," she said. The fear Dembinski spread also complicated the investigation. "We determined that many of those in his circle live in fear of him," a police officer involved in the case said. Detectives used a riot police unit when arresting him.

Such concern about Dembinski may be based not only on his debt collection methods, but also on his more recent past. When detectives began unraveling the shooting case, they determined Dembinski was operating a restaurant in Ostrava. It then came to light that he had allegedly acquired it through violence, forcing the original owner at gunpoint to transfer the business to him, which he then began to run. The victimized restaurant owner was not in court today and the investigation of that case is not yet completed.