Robert Watkins of Yahoo News reports:
On June 27th, Randy Blythe, lead singer of the metal band Lamb of God, was approaching his day like any other as he prepared for a show in the Czech Republic. The energetic and wildly entertaining frontman would never make it to the band’s performance that evening. Unknown to Blythe, he was wanted in connection to a 2010 death of a fan at a Lamb of God show. Blythe was taken into custody and has remained in a Prague prison since. Despite posting bail in the amount of approximately $200,000, he has been denied release based on the assumption he is a flight risk.
Due to judicial procedure and calendar conflicts in Prague, the 41 year old Blythe and his legal team will not be able to request release until July 19th.
The fact that Randy Blythe was ambushed by Czech Republic authorities as he crossed over the Eastern European border shouldn’t be a source of outrage. After all, the United States doesn’t forewarn enemies of the country they will be sought for arraignment once they cross over our boarders. What is outrageous, however, is the lack of response by U.S. officials.
It should act as a warning to any American who believes quick justice will be supported by the United States when traveling abroad.
According to CBS News 6 in Richmond, the U.S. State Department has issued a “no comment” statement on the case. On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy wrote regarding Blythe, “the U.S. Embassy provides standard consular services to American citizens in need of assistance. We cannot discuss specific cases due to privacy concerns.”
While it may be argued that Blythe isn’t a household name or cultural treasure, Blythe’s plight does speak volumes to is the injustice that Americans can face when imprisoned in foreign countries. In the case of Blythe, all indications are that he has been cooperative with Czech authorities. Combine that with the fact he has posted bail but remains imprisoned should outrage all citizens of the United States.
Nonetheless, there is another bizarre angle to the story – if authorities in Eastern Europe truly considered him a flight risk as they have stated, they would simply make the request for Blythe to turn over his passport.
At the heart of the matter in the Blythe case is the death of a crazed fan who was supposedly pushed from the stage by the Lamb of God singer two years ago at a Prague concert hall. The nineteen year old died approximately two weeks after the incident allegedly due to sustained head injuries from his fall at the show.
Fans approaching performers during shows has taken a dramatic turn since the on stage murder of Darrell Lance Abbott (known in the metal community as ‘Dimebag Darrell’) in 2004. Abbott, a guitarist who was often referred to as one of the best of his generation, was performing with his band Pantera in Ohio when Nathan Gale climbed onto the stage and shot the artist three times. Gale fired 15 shots in total, murdered a total of five people (including an individual who was assisting Dimebag) and seriously injured others.
Dimebag Darrell was 38 years old.
Gale was shot by a responding police officer and declared dead at the scene.
Dimebag’s death was fresh on the mind of many performers who rushed to the defense of Blythe.
“The kid jumped on stage and started a brawl, and Randy [Blythe] defended himself. That his life was lost in the process is truly unfortunate,” said David Draiman, lead singer of Disturbed. “You have to understand that ever since Dimebag Darrell was assaulted, shot, and murdered on stage by a ‘fan,’ all of us have been very defensive/cautious of anyone jumping up on stage.”
Author, producer, and host of Sirius XM Radio’s “Trunk Nation” Eddie Trunk added, ” I have actually been surprised how few things have changed in the relatively short period after Dime’s murder. People coming on stage and trying to dive and mosh has been going on for decades and probably won’t stop. It’s a product of the more extreme styles of music. Where it needs to be policed better, and in my view hasn’t been, is at the front line of security getting into the venues. If someone has a weapon that needs to be stopped before they get in the venue. Fans jumping on stage at concerts, especially metal shows, will never really end. I’m truly worried at the club level, similar to the size where Dime was murdered, that security is non existent in many places.”
When asked if the Blythe case will deter bands from entering Eastern Europe, Trunk added, ” I think bands will be careful that managers and agents really do advance work before going to some places.”
While it is difficult to determine whether or not the U.S. Embassy will get involved in an attempt to negotiate the release of Blythe, he has received enormous support from the United States metal scene. In addition to Eddie Trunk drawing attention to Blythe, Philadelphia’s WMMR morning hosts Preston and Steve have recently reported on his imprisonment. Artists such a Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, Sebastian Bach, and others have voiced there support, too.
As for Randy Blythe, the Virginia native was recently visited by his wife, Cindy at Prague’s Pankrác Prison where he has been detained since June 28. If he is denied release, it’s possible he would remain in the Czech prison until his hearing. Legal experts familiar with the Czech legal system have speculated he could remain in the prison for as long as six months until his case is reviewed by the courts.