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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Neo-Nazi leaders Vondrák and Dupová released on CZK 400 000 bail each (Czech Rep)

The Prague 1 District Court has decided to release Patrik Vondrák, the former chair of the Prague branch of the banned Workers' Party (Dělnická strana - DS) and former DS member Michaela Dupová from custody. Presiding judge Libor Vávra told the Czech Press Agency yesterday that both have been released on CZK 400 000 bail each after promising in writing to refrain from criminal activity. Both will also be under the observation of a probation officer. Vondrák, Dupová, and six others face charges of supporting and promoting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms.

Judge Vávra said the court had decided on 16 December to release the 25-year-old Vondrák. The decision to release Dupová, who is 21, was made on 27 December. Both had been behind bars for more than a year since police raided their homes at the end of last October. According to police, Vondrák is one of the leading and most active representatives of the neo-Nazi National Resistance (Národní odpor - NO). The prosecutor is charging the eight defendants with participating to various degrees in four separate criminal acts. They have all denied the charges.

Defendants Vondrák, Dupová, Richard Lang, Milan Hroch (former chair of the DS regional organization in Vysočina), Martin Václavek (a former DS member) and Daniel Zavadil are charged with organizing and convening a gathering and march on 6 June 2009 in Jihlava which town officials dispersed immediately after it began. The event had been announced as a commemorative march in honor of the victims of the Second World War, but its true purpose was to honor the memory of Wehrmacht soldiers who fell during the war as well as the memory of SS members. The prosecution charges Hroch and Lang with planning the event. Zavadil notified the town hall of it and Václavek was his deputy convener.

The lawsuit alleges that Lang also arranged for memorial wreaths for the event and was present for it as an organizer. Dupová, according to the file, agreed with Lang to provide drums and to produce a memorial wreath. The lawsuit also says the gathering was addressed by Herbert Schweiger, a veteran of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler SS division, and by Austrian nationalist Gottfried Küssel. According to the case file, Vondrák invited them both to the Czech Republic and provided them with transportation.

Dupová faces charges for two other criminal acts. According to the case file, she contributed to creating and running the website of Resistance Women Unity (RWU), which police say is the women's branch of NO. The lawsuit claims she was the website administrator and published articles by herself and others on the site. According to the state prosecutor, those texts promoted and disseminated Nazi and neo-Nazi ideology.

In addition, according to the file, Dupová is said to have contributed to organizing and holding a concert of white power music in support of neo-Nazis who had been apprehended and later sentenced. The concert took place in February 2009 in Srby (Kladno district) and was attended by about 120 people. According to the lawsuit, Dupová knew the performers and others present would be disseminating Nazi and neo-Nazi ideology during the concert and celebrating the NO. Another crime concerns allegations that Vondrák, Dupová, Lang, Petr Fryč (a DS candidate during the European Parliamentary elections) and Filip Vávra posted promotional stickers for the NO in the center of Prague on 4 December 2008.

Experts on right-wing extremism say Lang is connected to the NO, while police say Hroch has also been actively engaged in the organization. Experts also say Vávra was connected with the NO; he has most recently attracted attention for inviting former Ku-Klux-Klan leader David Duke to the Czech Republic. Vávra admitted to the court that he was a right-wing radical at the end of the 1990s, but claims to have gradually become more moderate.


Community leaders praise response to the EDL protests (UK)

Community and civic leaders have praised Bradford people for standing up to the English Defence League last summer, and urge them to sustain the unity into 2011.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford Councillor Peter Hill praised Bradford for standing up to racism during the EDL rally.

“All praise to the people of Bradford who showed those people the door,” he said. “The word ‘nimby’ has been mocked over the years, but on August 10 the people of Bradford made it respectable when they said ‘Not in my back yard’.

“It drew a line under the 2001 riots. The authorities did a terrific job, but so did the people of Bradford.”

Coun Hill called on Bradfordians to pull together for a prosperous new year.

“For 2011, I hope there’s an upturn in business and that the cuts that have to be made are not as severe as feared,” he said. “The people of Bradford have to stick together, we need to pull together as a city.” Looking back on 2011, the year he became Lord Mayor, Councillor Hill said highlights had included Royal visits by Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

“They were a one-off and a real feather in the cap of the city,” he said. “What has really stood out are all the wonderful things people are doing, things I would never have known about had I not been Lord Mayor.

“I am invited to things every day and find people hiding their light under a bushel, doing terrific work in the community. I take my hat off to them – the city would be a lot poorer without them.”

The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, Dean of Bradford Cathedral, wants people to “work at what’s really important in the light of what will happen in 2011.”

He said: “That means not trying to get lots of material things, but discovering what we’re on this earth for, and how much we still have to learn, so that we can become the people God has made us to be.

“I hope as many people as possible have a happy and prosperous 2011, and that those who have good things will use them to help people worse off than themselves.”

He added: “I hope we will care for one another, and our environment, and get to know each other better across differences of culture, race, religion, age and sexuality. Kindness is an underrated virtue – let’s have more of it in 2011. And some warm sunshine too!”

Ishtiaq Ahmed, spokesman for Bradford Council for Mosques, hopes for “a very peaceful and prosperous year” in the city.

“The work and effort that all the community have put together to resist attacks from organisations like EDL has placed Bradford in a better light and we hope that kind of unity will be sustained over the next 12 months,” he said.

“Personally, I would like to keep my energy levels up and keep working for the betterment of the community, and for the unity of all Bradfordians.

“Bradford Council for Mosques takes pride in its work with other faith communities and we want to take that partnership to another level.”

Chairman of the Yorkshire Society Keith Madeley became an MBE in the New Year Honours list, for services to the community. Mr Madeley wants to see more development in the city centre in 2011. He said: “As a Bradfordian my hope for next year would be to see more movement, in respect of the Westfield development.

“I come across people who don’t go into Bradford to shop any more, there is nothing to attract them.”

Also at the top of Mr Madeley’s 2011 wishlist is the prospect of a rail-link between the Interchange and Forster Square railway stations becoming a reality.

Mr Madeley, a former railwayman, said: “An east-west link would be great, rather than being at the end of the line.

“For me that would be a real defining moment for Bradford.”

The Telegraph & Argus