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Czech court jails neo-Nazis for arson attack on Roma family

A court in the Czech Republic has sentenced four neo-Nazis to up to 22 years in prison for an arson attack on a Roma family. The group had planned the act to coincide with the anniversary of Hitler's birthday.

A judge's hammer

The sentences followed unrest among Roma over the attack

Four neo-Nazis in the Czech Republic were given prison sentences of up to 22 years after an arson attack on a Roma family that left a toddler fighting for her life.

The court ruled that the four had planned their attack on a home in the northeastern Czech town of Vitkov intending to kill their victims.

According to the verdict on Wednesday, the men - aged between 22 and 26 - had planned their actions "within the context of their affiliation to extremist groups."

Judge Miloslav Studnicka said that the four had wanted to "show off" to like-minded extremists, planning the act to take place on April 19, 2009 - a day before the 120th anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth.

Members of the Czech Republic's Roma minority

Authorities have promised to better protect the country's Roma

"It's clear that they did everything possible to ensure that the residents of the house would burn to death," prosecutor Brigita Bilikova told the court.

"They were attempting to spread their ideology and create an atmosphere of fear among the Roma."

Child survived 80 percent burns

The men threw Molotov cocktails into a house. Three people were injured in the ensuing fire. These included two-year-old Natalka Kudrikova, who survived despite suffering burns on 80 percent of her body.

The regional court in the eastern city of Ostrava also ordered the men to pay damages of almost 693,000 euros ($957,000) to a health insurer and the family.

The attack sparked unrest among the country's Roma community, estimated at between 250,000 and 300,000 in a population of 10.5 million. Since the incident, Czech authorities have said they will step up the fight against the far-right.

Author: Richard Connor (dpa, AP, AFP)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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