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Singer of US heavy metal band released in Prague

- Associated Press - Friday, August 3, 2012

PRAGUE (AP) - The frontman of the U.S. heavy metal band Lamb of God has been released from a Czech prison on $400,000 bail as police investigate him for allegedly pushing a fan off a stage who later died of his injuries, an official said Friday.

A Prague court on Thursday dismissed a prosecution request that Randy Blythe be banned from leaving the country. Blythe's lawyer, Martin Radvan, said the singer had flown out of the Czech capital for the United States on Friday. The band is based in Richmond, Virginia.

"I'm relieved to be out of Pankrac jail," Blythe told the private Czech Nova television at Prague's international airport. "It wasn't bad but it wasn't exactly fun."

The 41-year-old was arrested on June 27 when he returned to the Czech Republic for another gig, not realizing that he was being investigated for bodily harm resulting in death during a concert he gave in Prague in 2010, said Radvan.

Blythe told Czech Nova it was "very tragic" the young man had died. "I feel very bad that a fan of my band is dead, that his family has to go through it. That's terrible. I feel awful for them," he said.

Blythe, who has not been charged with a crime, said he was not aware of what had happened to the fan at Prague's Abaton club that year and was surprised to be arrested when he returned to the Czech Republic to play a show scheduled for June 28, said Radvan.

"We don't know yet if (the death) was caused by our client or in a different way," the lawyer said, adding that the police investigation is unlikely to be completed until winter.

Radvan said police believe that during the 2010 concert that the audience member climbed onto the stage and Blythe pushed him off. The fan hit the floor with his head and later died of the injuries, police said.

Martina Lhotakova, a spokeswoman for Prague's Municipal Court, said Blythe was released Thursday when the court upheld a lower court decision that had rejected a request by prosecutors to keep him in custody, fearing he wouldn't return.

Blythe told media Friday that if requested he would be back. "If it's necessary for me to return to Prague to go to this court thing, I certainly will," he said.

Tommy Streat, a friend of Blythe's, organized vigils in support of the singer in Richmond and in Washington, D.C., while the singer was imprisoned. Streat cautioned others not to judge Blythe and the band by their stage personas or their genre, with its thrashing guitars and often dark subjects. He told of a regular guy who cuts his grass, makes time for fans, who helped a homeless man find a place to live and once spent several hours talking a man out of committing suicide.

"The Randy Blythe we know truly has not a bit of malice or ability to cause that kind of harm or take that type of action toward anybody," Streat said.

Streat said Blythe's release begins his long process to clear his name.

"It's fantastic that he's gotten through this first step of getting the bail finalized and for everyone to realize that he's not a flight risk," Streat said. "He's an international artist who can't disappear. It's a shame it took a month for that to be agreed upon.

"The wheels of justice there move a little bit slower than here," he said.

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