Crime Rate Among Foreigners Remains Static, Despite Rising Population
“There is no collective guilt in the case of criminal offences.” – Interior Minister Vit Rakusan. Credit: Vit Rakusan, via Facebook.
Prague, Aug 14 (CTK) – The crime rate among foreign nationals living in the Czech Republic has remained virtually static, despite the rising foreign population in the country, Interior Minister Vit Rakusan (STAN) said at a press conference yesterday.
Referring to a number of recent high-profile violent incidents in which the alleged perpetrators were Ukrainian, the minister said he can understand the public nervousness they provoked, but stressed that these were the actions of individuals, and rejected collective guilt.
“There is no collective guilt in the case of criminal offences,” Rakusan stressed.
He said all crimes would be properly investigated and the perpetrators would be punished. “The aim is that everyone should feel safe in the Czech Republic,” he added.
In 2019, the last year before the COVID-19 epidemic, foreigners were responsible for 8.2% of the total number of crimes in the Czech Republic, while comprising 6% of the population, Rakusan said, adding that the share of foreigners has now risen to 10-11%.
“The crime rate has not risen to some 20% as a simple multiplication would suggest. The rate of crime committed by foreigners in the Czech Republic stands at 11.5%,” he said.
Ukrainians now make up more than 5% of the Czech population, while crime committed by Ukrainians is around 4%, Rakusan said.
Rakusan also said that the number of all crimes this year had dropped by about 5,000, compared to the same period in 2019. The increase in crime is thus six times lower than last year, he added.
“The Czech Republic continues to be one of the safest countries,” the minister pointed out.
He again warned against “stirring up passions and hate speech”, which he said was perpetrated “only by people without elementary social responsibility, only by populists and those who live on fear and hatred and build their political capital on the basis of these emotions.”
This week, public and media attention was drawn to a case in Plzen, west Bohemia, in which an 18-year-old brutally assaulted, raped and attempted to murder a girl who, according to unofficial information, was 15 years old.
Pilsen Mayor Roman Zarzycky (ANO) confirmed information on social media that the accused was a Ukrainian who had been living in the Czech Republic for a long time.
Police President Martin Vondrasek said police officers had identified the suspect and arrested him within six hours. He is suspected of rape and attempted murder and faces between 15 and 25 years in prison if convicted, or even an exceptional sentence, as he has recently turned 18 and is therefore fully criminally responsible, Vondrasek told reporters.
On Saturday, information emerged on social media that a 16-year-old who had sexually assaulted a woman in Prague’s Hostivar district was also Ukrainian.
Vondrasek said today the rape suspect had been arrested after an extensive search, also within six hours. He said he expected police investigators to request that the suspect be remanded in custody, as in the Plzen case. Because he is a juvenile, he faces up to five years in prison, while the regular sentence for this crime is from five to 12 years in prison, Vondrasek said.
The police did not specify the suspect’s nationality in any of the cases.
Prague police confirmed later yesterday that they had accused a 16-year-old man of rape on Saturday night in relation to the attack in Hostivar, and asked for him to be remanded in custody.
Rakusan announced on Twitter yesterday morning that a meeting had been convened with the police and representatives of the Ukrainian community.
Ukrainian charge d’affaires Vitaly Usatiy did not attend the press conference, although his presence was announced by the Interior Ministry.
“The press briefing in this lineup was better in the end. We are simply saying these acts are individual, committed by individuals who are prosecuted, we do not want to point to a group,” Rakusan stated.
The Interior Ministry and the police agreed with representatives of the Ukrainian community on “a rapid exchange of information and close cooperation,” Rakusan noted.
The Ukrainian Embassy in the Czech Republic condemned the violent act in Plzen on Friday, and expressed sincere sympathies for the victim.