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Czech Christian Democratic MEPs file criminal charges against Czech MP Okamura for defamation and harming their good name

18.9.2017 15:10
Czech folk singer Jarek Nohavica took this photo with the ultra-nationalist politiican Tomio Okamura in 2017 in the runup to the autumn elections. (PHOTO:  Tomio Okamura's Facebook profile)
Czech folk singer Jarek Nohavica took this photo with the ultra-nationalist politiican Tomio Okamura in 2017 in the runup to the autumn elections. (PHOTO: Tomio Okamura's Facebook profile)

In a press release issued on 14 September, Czech Christian Democratic MEPs Pavel Svoboda, Michaela Šojdrová and Tomáš Zdechovský announced that they have filed criminal charges against Czech MP Tomio Okamura, whose election campaign is called "The Courage to Speak the Truth" and who has disseminated a deceptive list of the names of 12 MEPs whom he is alleging voted at the European Parliament (EP) in favor of sanctions against the Czech Republic because the country decided not to receive refugees as part of the EU's quota system. All three of the Christian Democratic MEPs can prove that they voted against the resoution Okamura is referring to.

The resolution in question had nothing to do with levying sanctions against the country, however. "Okamura is referring to the vote from 18 May and characterizing it as having been about sanctions against the Czech Republic. On that day, however, we were just voting about whether the Commission, according to one of its main tasks, should launch an infringement proceedings, because the quotas for refugee reception became binding on the Member States through a decision by the EU Council of Ministers," explains Svoboda, who chairs the Committee on Legal Affairs at the EP, adding that such a proceedings has many phases and could eventually result in the European Court of Justice levying financial sanctions against a Member State for violating the EU Treaty.

"MEPs cannot just levy sanctions, that is absolutely beyond their competence, and [Okamura's] analysis is absolutely deceptive," Svoboda said. Czech MEP Michaela Šojdrová clarified further that "When Okamura, with his unverified list, questioned Czech Prime Minister Sobotka and other politicians about it on the floor of the lower house, I let it pass, because he enjoys immunity for what he says in the lower house. Nevertheless, it has been demonstrated that Okamura is building his campaign on exactly those same lies, which he is unabashedly repeating even during television appearances, in his campaign newsletter, and in his constant messaging on social networking sites, where his posts unfortunately have enormous impact," adding that Okamura's case is a good example of how what is originally a hoax statement can become "information" that is believed by half the nation.

"Okamura's lies have already been unmasked many times and it is not possible that he will keep getting a pass for all of this, and for that reason we have decided to file a criminal report against him for defamation and harming our good names," says Zdechovský, who sits on the EP's Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and who has already advocated for several essential proposals to address migration and terrorism there, significantly contributing to the fact that as of February 2017 the borders of the Schengen Area are being strictly monitored and verification of identities is taking place through Interpol databases. "Tomio Okamura has been absolutely disparaging our good work, ignoring facts, and intentionally manipulating people by means of deception so that they will vote for him again. That is unacceptable and it is necessary to clearly say we have had enough of these practices!"

press release of the Czech Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL), translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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