Czech bodybuilder's fine upheld for approving of Romani man's murder, he says he will appeal again
The Ústecký Regional Court in the Czech Republic has rejected the appeal of a first-instance verdict against the famous bodybuilder, MMA fighter and YouTuber Filip Grznár and has confirmed that he must pay a CZK 15 000 [EUR 580] fine. Three years ago, Grznár produced a video in which he approved of the murder of a Romani man on a housing estate in Chomutov and threatened to kill people himself.
In May 2017, housing estate resident Petr Benda, who is not Romani, shot dead a Romani man who was driving a van, defending his actions by claiming he had intended to save people on the street, himself included, because the driver was aiming the van into other people and other vehicles and had been driving right at him. Benda's version of events was disproven in court and he is now serving a 10-year prison sentence.
"Some cikán drove a car into people and harmed somebody. One person defended himself there by taking his legally-held 9mm and shooting [the driver] dead. He did the right thing. The problem is that the fucking Czech justice system will send him behind bars pretty fast, it's terrible. The cikáni want to stir up unrest here and are threatening the guy's family. If they do that, I will go to Chomutov for those cikáni. I'll kill it," the bodybuilder said in the video.
Grznár said he was not surprised by the appellate court's decision. "We were almost certain it would end up like this. We are appealing to the Supreme Court," the 36-year-old told news server iDNES.cz immediately after the verdict was pronounced.
"After the decision by the District Court in Chomutov we said we were not counting on any big success at the Regional Court level and that we would continue anyway. That has now come to pass," defense attorney Jan Varga told iDNES.cz.
The District Court in Chomutov first ordered the YouTuber to pay CZK 15 000 [EUR 580], without holding a hearing, for committing violence against a group or its individual members and for approving of a felony. Grznár refused to pay, so a trial was opened in the matter.
The athlete defended himself in court by saying he had not meant what he said literally, that in actuality he had not wanted to kill anybody, and that he had just been speaking hyperbolically with the aim of gaining as many views of the video as possible. "All I knew was that somebody using a weapon stood up to a person who was driving a car into people. That means it was a weapon against a weapon. I didn't even know somebody had died there," he told the court.
The bodybuilder also claimed his videos are "a certain kind of artwork" and that he must get as many viewers as possible because that is what his sponsors pay him to do. "Nobody could have taken seriously the idea that as a famous celebrity and father of two children I would actually go to Chomutov and kill somebody there. That is absurd," he testified.
Judge Naděžda Hájková at the appellate venue was of a different opinion, of course. "Just like the first-instance court, we have come to the conclusion that the two torts with which the defendant was charged were committed. This punishment is more or less symbolic, it is proportionate," she said of the verdict.
According to the defense, however, the YouTuber's behavior should never have been assessed as a felony. "Neither in the preliminary proceeding nor during the main trial has any attempt been made to provide evidence, to say nothing of actually proving, that his threat sparked concern. It was clear to all that this is hyperbole. Nobody feared for their life or contacted the police," Varga argued in court.
The judge did not identify with that reasoning. "What is essential is whether the threat was such that it could have provoked concern, irrespective of whether it actually did so. We have arrived at the conclusion that this threat could have raised such a concern, so it meets the definition of the charge," she said after reading the judgment.
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