Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, has issued an official response to the petition that was created by a LAMB OF GOD fan from Brandenburg, Kentucky in an online forum on the White House web site for the government to help the band’s frontman, Randy Blythe, who is facing manslaughter charges in the Czech Republic. (A petition needs 25,000 signatures in 30 days to get attention; the Blythe petition had 29,000 signatures, 4,000 more than necessary.)
Posner‘s full statement reads as follows:
“We appreciate your inquiry about the case of D. Randall Blythe, who was released from detention in the Czech Republic on August 3, 2012, and returned to the United States shortly thereafter. Mr. Blythe has publicly stated his intention to return to the Czech Republic to face trial for the alleged manslaughter of a Czech man at a concert in 2010. He recently told MTV, ‘It’s the correct thing for me to do … this poor young man’s family deserves some answers.’ Pending Mr. Blythe‘s trial, we cannot discuss the details of his case. We are closely monitoring the progress of his trial.
“The Department Of State noted in its 2011 Human Rights Report that in the Czech Republic, ‘The laws provide for the right to a fair trial, and the independent judiciary generally enforced this right.’ We expect that the Czech government will make all efforts to ensure a fair, transparent, and timely trial for Mr. Blythe, and guarantee full protection of his legal rights under Czech law and his welfare.
“If you would like to know more about what the Department of State does for U.S. citizens overseas, please visit our website at Travel.State.Gov. General information on U.S. human rights policy is available at HumanRights.gov.”
A Czech state attorney filed criminal charges against Blythe on November 30 related to the death of a fan in Prague two years ago, the attorney’s office spokeswoman Štepánka Zenklová told the Czech News Agency (CTK). The Prague City Court has three months to set the trial date or return the case to the police and state attorney for further investigation.
Blythe is facing the possibility of conviction and a long-term jail sentence after a 2010 incident in which a fan attending a LAMB OF GOD show died almost a month later, allegedly from injuries sustained when he was thrown off the stage. Blythe‘s predicament has galvanized the heavy rock community, with artists across the hard rock genre pledging their support.
Shortly after being released from the Pankrác prison in Prague in early August, Blythe sat down with Mark Holmberg of WTVR-TV — the CBS television affiliate based in Richmond, Virginia — to discuss his 37-day stay at the notorious Czech Republic penitentiary (see video below).
Asked about his vow to go back to Prague if there is a trial, Randy said, “I feel ethically responsible to go back there and face this charge. [The victim’s] family right now is in a lot of pain, and they deserve some answers. To lose a child is the worst possible thing a human can go through, I think .. I want my name cleared. I have to go around the world and tour, you know. That’s what I do. I’m not going to hide here. I’m an innocent man. I’m going to go to court and see what happens.”
Regarding what the “worst-case scenario” is if he returns to Prague for a trial, Blythe told Metal Hammer magazine, “Ten years with no time off for good behavior. For my particular charge — we’re saying manslaughter, but it’s assault in the fourth degree with intent, resulting in the death of this young man — the sentence for that is five to 10 years with no time off. So the worst-case scenario is that get out when I’m 51, 52 years old. It’s not something I really try to dwell on too much, because it’s scary. I don’t want to go to prison, I don’t want that to happen, but the fact of the matter is it could happen. I will deal with it as it comes, that’s all! can do. If you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you’re pissing on the present. And right now, all! have is the present so I prepare myself the best I can. My band is behind me and my family’s behind me and we’re gonna do our best to prove my innocence. But worrying about a nebulous uncertain future, or being super-bummed out that l went to prison for 37 days does me no good.”
LAMB OF GOD‘s manager, Larry Mazer, confirmed in a statement earlier this week that Blythe will defend himself in the case. “We believe that Randy responded professionally to the numerous amount of fans rushing the stage that day, a number of them captured on videos that have been posted on the internet,” Mazer said. “We have testimony from the venue operator that acknowledges lax security and an improper barricade being used that evening. Numerous testimonies from fans also were contradictory as to the actions of the multiple fans that tried to access the stage.”