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Czech Court Gives Lengthy Sentences To Romany Family's Attackers

A Czech court has convicted four right-wing extremists of a brutal firebombing on a Romany family's home that left a 2-year-old girl badly burned, sentencing the attackers to long prison terms.

David Vaculik, Jaromir Lukes, Ivo Mueller, and Vaclav Cojocaru were charged with racially motivated attempted murder for the April 2009 attack.

The court, in the northeastern city of Ostrava, sentenced Vaculik, Lukes, and Mueller to 22 years in prison each, and Cojocaru to 20 years.

The four men threw Molotov cocktails into a house in the eastern town of Vitkov, injuring three people, including the young girl, Natalka. She suffered severe burns to 80 percent of her body and was in serious condition for months.

All four pleaded not guilty and asserted their intention to appeal after the verdicts were announced.

The case has garnered international attention for its brutality and the initial failure of local police to aggressively pursue the perpetrators. Former Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer's wife, Dana Fischerova, also devoted considerable effort to publicly highlighting the tragedy.

The Czech Romany community is estimated at between 250,000 and 300,000 people in a country of 10.5 million.

compiled from agency reports