Czech court conditionally suspends prosecution of man who threatened to kill Romani celebrity
Conditional suspension of the prosecution is how the trial ended of a man in his fifties from Ostrava, Czech Republic who made racist threats on the life of the Romani singer Radek Banga. The court suspended the prosecution for a probationary period of two years.
The man made threats through online social networks against Radek Banga, whose band is known in the music world as Gipsy.cz. Banga had expressed his vocal disagreement during the Czech Nightingale (Český slavík) popular music awards in November 2016 with an award being given to the Ortel band and its singer of the same name, whose material is known to be racist.
Dozens of Ortel fans reacted by sending Banga harsh threats and racial abuse through the Internet. The man from Ostrava who has now faced judgment wrote one such message.
"To call you a black swine would be flattery, you're just shitty filth. Gas would be too easy, I'd slit your throat ISIS-style!" was just part of his message.
During the investigation the man admitted he was the author of the comments and said he regretted them, telling the court he acted under the influence of emotion. "I wasn't thinking," the man said.
"When I was at the police station later and heard them read aloud the sentence I had written, I didn't believe it. I myself was horrified by what I had written," the man testified.
The defendant also sent a letter of apology to the singer. During the opening of the main hearing at the end of January, he delivered the CZK 5 000 [EUR 194] that Banga sought as compensation for moral damages to the singer's attorney in the courtroom, and testified that he had also donated CZK 8 000 [EUR 310] to an organization that aids crime victims.
According to Klára Kalibová of the In IUSTITIA organization, who is Banga's attorney, the court's decision in this case was incorrect. "In my opinion, the defendant does not actually regret this matter," she told news server Romea.cz.
"He did not apologize to the victim until just before the main hearing, i.e., more than a year and a half after he committed this act, and he only did so in a formal sense. He has not undertaken any basic reflection about his behavior," the attorney said.
The court, in her view, also did not take into consideration the decisions handed down by other courts in the Czech Republic against those who committed similar offenses. A total of 17 decisions associated with the scandal of people sending racist abuse and threats to Banga have been previously handed down.
In nine of those cases the perpetrators have been convicted, in five the behavior was considered a misdemeanor, and three cases have been shelved. The current case is the first to end with a conditional suspension.
"This demonstrates that 'local law' continues to apply in the Czech Republic," the attorney warned. "From the very beginning we pointed out that Radek Banga's scandal should be addressed by one court, not by different courts across the country."
"The court did reproach the defendant for his behavior, declared it a felony, and is giving him a second chance only in the form of probation," the attorney noted. The experience of the Banga scandal, according to her, demonstrates that it is necessary to initiate a debate about adapting legal regulations for the prosecution of felonies committed by more than one perpetrator against the same victim.
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