Czech Constitutional Court rejects ex-Senator's complaint against fine for racism
The Czech Constitutional Court (Ústavní soud - ÚS) has rejected a complaint from former Czech Senator Vladimír Dryml against a fine of CZK 20 000 that he must pay for verbally attacking a doctor from Yemen. The sanction was levied by the Czech Senate's Committee on Immunity, according to which Dryml's remarks were racially motivated.
Dryml appealed that sanction to the Senate as a whole, which upheld the Committee's decision. The Czech News Agency reports that a ruling has been posted to the ÚS website stating that the court has now come to the conclusion that it cannot review the decision of the upper chamber in the disciplinary proceeding, because it would violate Parliament's autonomy.
Legislators have the option of choosing between a standard misdemeanor proceeding with respect to their members or an internal disciplinary one. Should they choose the latter, court protection regarding the proceedings cannot be subsequently sought.
"Naturally it would have been different had [Dryml], like any other citizen, undergone an ordinary misdemeanor proceeding," said ÚS spokesperson Miroslava Sedláčková. Dryml has already paid the fine but considers the upper chamber's decision an example of "positive discrimination".
Dryml was sanctioned by the Senate for an incident in 2013 in which, in his role as the director of a hospital in Vrchlabí, he said the following to a Yemeni doctor from the Hradec Králové emergency airlift service: "Go back where you came from." His words were evaluated by the Committee as a racially motivated misdemeanor.
The now ex-Senator objected to the charge. He commissioned a court expert to produce a legal analysis according to which his remark could not have been racially motivated and used it to argue his case.
Dryml said he had reproached the Yemeni doctor for violating the rules of the hospital during the landing of the helicopter and for endangering its staff. He also said there is now a risk that any employee of foreign nationality will cry racism when criticized.
As a representative of Hradec Králové, Dryml was first elected to the Senate for the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD). In 2012 he left that party and joined the "Citizens' Rights Party" (Strana práv občanů - SPO).
Last year he defended his seat as an unaffiliated candidate nominated by the "Homeland" (Domov) group but did not make it past the first round of voting. The ÚS decision on his case was not unanimous, with four justices publishing dissents.
Justices Vladimír Sládeček and Radovan Suchánek opined that the ÚS should provide constitutional protection to the ex-Senator, review his complaint and rule on it. Justices Vladimír Kůrka and Vojtěch Šimíček said they believed his complaint was not admissible because it had been filed too early, given that Dryml had also filed suit in administrative court.
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