Czech attorney: Justice for online hate has been won in a case of racist assaults against two Romani brothers
The District Court in Prostějov, Czech Republic has given a suspended sentence to a perpetrator of online assaults against Patrik and Radek Banga, who have also been awarded compensation for the non-pecuniary damages they suffered in the full amount requested. The In IUSTITIA organization provided legal services to both victims.
Radek Banga is a Czech and Romani singer who protested against an award given to the ultra-right Ortel band by the national singing competition "Czech Nightingale" (Český slavík) at the end of 2016. He published an explanation of his position using the Facebook social networking site.
As a consequence of his brave stance, he was targeted with hundreds of hateful commentaries online. His brother Patrik, a blogger and journalist, subsequently drew attention to the harassment Radek was facing.
Patrik then received the same response - hatred, intimidation, and threats. Both victims decided to actively speak out against online hatred and to defend themselves by pressing criminal charges.
The brothers turned to In IUSTITIA for support. We began to provide them with services during the first week after the assaults began.
The first perpetrator, David Šmíd, was convicted in the summer of 2017. A second perpetrator, Aleš Rozsíval, was convicted on 9 January 2018.
Why is the verdict against Rozsíval the absolutely most important one?
Finally, somebody has been found here who has been willing to stand up to evil and see the fight through to the end. Rozsíval has spent years terrorizing those around him, assaulting dozens of people both online and in the public arena.
His previous victims, however, have never been successful in defending themselves - they either never asked police for aid at all, or stopped fighting after the first negative outcome, i.e., if the threats were assessed as mere misdemeanors, or if their cases were dismissed completely. Also in Banga's case, Rozsíval was seen as a perpetrator with no prior record.
That fact is reflected in his relatively low sentence, or rather, in the fact that it is a suspended sentence. Thanks to In IUSTITIA's legal work, the assaults against Patrik and Radek Banga were combined into a single case.
If the combined approach had not succeeded, police would have dealt with each case separately, with very dubious results. The conviction of Rozsíval, therefore, is primarily due to the bravery and persistence of the victims and to the thorough legal aid provided to them by In IUSTITIA and our collaborating attorneys.
We have either created or received a total of 719 documents in the Bangas' case, including a Constitutional complaint, two motions to the Regional State Prosecutor, several motions to the District State Prosecutor, and dozens of complaints against delays in the prosecution. Without such active victims, the state would have long ago sent their case to the bottom of the pile.
Another 11 perpetrators of these crimes against Radek Banga are still waiting to be prosecuted. We are doing our best to get misdemeanor hearings for another four.
It is absolutely realistic that some of these perpetrators will never be tried. Currently there are eight perpetrators who have yet to be charged, and one-third of the time during which they can be lawfully charged has already elapsed.
What, basically, did Aleš Rozsíval write to Patrik and Radek Banga? What did they have to repeatedly listen to during these proceedings in their role as witnesses?
"That black swine Banga was crying on '168 Hours' because a gas chamber shower awaits him so we won't have to see him anymore."
"The gypsies just steal, murder, make a mess and spread diseaes, they are filthy, stinky, and they get astronomical social welfare. I'm amazed that anybody is standing
up for these black pigs."
"Oliver Angel, I do not doubt that you have the IQ of a frozen fish. Unlike you, I have three college degrees, and I do not listen to the crap that shitty black nigger
Banga sings. Only losers like you can do that who are seriously fucked up from drink and drugs. I have no doubt that your education was in a remedial school where
these black monkeys went also and where you are going now."
"The Havloid plague has assembled here. Banga, you deserve abhorrence and the gas chamber. Gypsies are a cancer and an ulcer on the nation and must be exterminated in the name of the pure race. Another quote in conclusion. GYPSIES ARE A RACE, BUT NOT A HUMAN ONE. Adolf Hitler."
"Banga, in short, you're a drunken black swine and a junkie. You should get out of the Czech Republic."
"Jindra Čech: Unlike this black swine I do honest work. I pay taxes so these black pigs can live off them."
"In short, he's a black fuck who should be sent to the gas chambers. I would gas all the gypsies, they are cancer on the nation."
"That gyppo and black mug has been vomiting all over the place here. He didn't win, so he is disseminating hatred, like all niggers."
"Gypsies are right at home in any concentration camp with a gas chamber shower."
"Banga is a fucking nigger."
"Banga is just repulsive gypsy filth and a zero. What can you expect from niggers? The only thing to do is to drive these black whores into the gas chambers."
"Patrik Banga, it's dark outside. In a moment I will go organize a hunt for the black gypsy cattle."
"Nothing but black swine will be there. We must bring a gas gun and Molotov cocktails with us. All that will be left of these black gypsy swine will be their dust and
"Three times the gas for that black fuck Patrik Banga.“
These statements were not a matter of expressing an opinion, they were not one-time cases of a person "snapping", they were not examples of flippancy. They were intentional bullying, terror and threats.
Here, as is known, it is quite difficult for such behavior to be covered by freedom of speech. The District Court judge said the assault was not just coarse and vulgar, but also very cruel.
Compensation for non-pecuniary damages, which both brothers have sought from the perpetrator, was, therefore, fully justified. The perpetrator was found guilty immediately of four hate crimes: Defamation of an ethnic, national, racial or other group (Section 355 paragraph 1 letter a), Criminal Code), Violence against an individual or a group (Section 352 paragraph 2 Criminal Code), Incitement to hatred of a group or to restricting their rights and freedoms (Section 356 paragraph 1 an 3 letter a) Criminal Code) and Display of sympathy for a movement aiming to suppress human rights and freedoms (Section 404 Criminal Code).
The perpetrator was sentenced to 18 months in prison, conditionally suspended for 30 months. He will also have to submit himself to supervision by the Probation and Mediation Services.
The degree to which the perpetrator had the courage of his convictions is demonstrated by the fact that he never appeared in court. The decision will be delivered to him.
As a consequence of their bravery and persistence, the victims and their representatives ended up under even further pressure and threats from members of the public. The online discussion of this verdict beneath an article on the iDNES.cz news server reporting on the Banga case had to be closed because almost 100 % of those posting were expressing their support for the perpetrator.
Without In IUSTITIA's legal aid program, support for these victims would never have been possible. You can support our legal aid program here.
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