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Czech court fines online racists a mere EUR 4 for death threats against Romani celebrity

8.12.2017 18:17
Radek Banga speaking in the Czech Senate on 27 January 2017 on the occasion of the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity. (PHOTO:  Czech Television)
Radek Banga speaking in the Czech Senate on 27 January 2017 on the occasion of the International Day of Holocaust Remembrance and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity. (PHOTO: Czech Television)

Last year Romani singer Radek Banga used Facebook to explain his departure from the "Czech Nightingale" popular music awards - and was subsequently flooded with thousands of hateful messages. The performer left the gala during a live television broadcast to protest the neo-Nazi past of the singer Tomáš Ortel, who won two "Silver Nightingale" awards last year.

The haters who wrote to Banga on Facebook made death threats against him. After one year of police investigating the hate mail, most of those who sent it have never been punished, with a single court verdict and several fines the only outcome.

The slow approach to the investigation is being criticized by Banga's attorney, the director of the In IUSTITIA organization, Klára Kalibová:  "The police had his profile downloaded by 7 December 2016. The first person accused, David Šmíd, was not charged until some time in June 2017, which is basically seven months after the incident. I have never encountered such laxity in such a simple case," she told the Czech Television program "168 Hours".

Jana Šteinerová, spokesperson for the Central Bohemian Police, defends the investigation, describing the process as complicated and time-consuming and telling Czech Television that:  "As part of a criminal proceedings it must be proven that a post was published by a specific person." Banga says he does not intend to comment on the outcome of the investigation to date, adding that he was motivated by principle to file charges:  "I just wanted to demonstrate that there is an Internet space here where the laws apply absolutely the same way as they do in real life. I have the feeling that some people are a bit confused about that. They have the feeling they can say anything on the Internet," he told Czech Television.

According to the Czech Television reporting, police have analyzed as many as 7 000 of the posts, but for the time being have only managed to find 17 of the individuals who authored the threats. Nine of them are said to have committed a felony, specifically, hate crimes motivated by the perpetrator's presumption of the victim's affiliation with a race, ethnicity or nationality, while the other eight posts were qualified by police as just misdemeanors.

Overview of the sentences known to date in the Banga hate speech cases

FELONY 

The speech posted: "Yes, this is how Nazism is applauded. Now all we have to do is expand it as much as possible, because these black [expletive deleted], Jews, etc., must leave our homeland, our white homeland, Europe, and [expletive deleted], or even better, be sent to the gas like before."

SENTENCE: 100 hours of community service work

MISDEMEANORS

The speech posted:  "Did I [expletive deleted] you, [expletive deleted]? Here's an ax. Kill yourself."

SENTENCE: CZK 500 [EUR 20] fine

The speech posted: "You're a black swine. Zyklon B."

SENTENCE: CZK 400 [EUR 16] fine

The speech posted: "Black [expletive deleted]. If he weren't singing he would be on welfare like all the black swine. His grandparents should have been killed in that camp. At least then he wouldn't be such a goody-goody."

SENTENCE: CZK 100 [EUR 4 ] fine

The speech posted: "Send that [expletive deleted] to the gas."

SENTENCE: The author is waiting to learn the amount of the fine.

The speech posted: "To call you a black swine would be flattery. You're just disgusting filth, [expletive deleted] and [expletive deleted] and the gas would be too easy for you, we'll cut your throat Muslim style."

SENTENCE: The author is waiting to learn the amount of the fine.

Die, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Facebook, Hate violence, Neo-Nazism, Ortel



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