Czech court gives former secretary to ultra-right party suspended sentence for inciting hatred
The District Court for Prague 1 has given the former secretary of the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" party (SPD), Jaroslav Staník, a yearlong suspended sentence for the remarks he made in the restaurant in the lower house of Parliament about gay people, Jews and Roma. He has also been fined CZK 70 000 [EUR 2 700].
According to Judge Helena Králová, Staník committed felony incitement of hatred and/or the restriction of human rights and freedoms, as well as denying, doubting, approving of or justifying genocide. The verdict has yet to take effect and both parties are considering appeals.
The former SPD secretary, according to the indictment, said in the lower house on 24 October 2017 that "fags and lesbians are a disease and should be shot dead after they are born". He is also alleged to have said that gays, Jews and Roma should be sent to the gas chambers.
Staník rejects the characterization of his behavior as criminal. He said he had been drinking alcohol that evening in the restaurant to celebrate the electoral success of the SPD party.
The former secretary claims to have been conversing with other politicians about minorities, but not defaming them. He also believes the motivation for prosecuting him is to damge the SPD movement, his personal reputation, and that of the SPD chair, Tomio Okamura.
After the verdict was announced on 9 April, Staník told journalists it had not surprised him. He did not want to comment further.
In his closing remarks to the judge, the defendant especially attacked the prosecutor and the "regime" in the Czech Republic. "The court finds the defendant's guilt to have been proven," the judge ruled.
Staník, in her view, was proven guilty in particular by the eyewitness testimonies of former MPs Martin Lanek and Marek Černoch (both with the "Dawn of Direct Democracy" party - Úsvit). She fully agreed with the prosecutor's motion for sentencing.
The year-long sentence, suspended for two years, and the fine were also levied against the former SPD secretary for making his remarks while in that office. "More attention would be paid to him [in such a role] than to others," the judge said.
Králová added that freedom of speech cannot be open-ended. Staník was also an assistant to Czech MP Jaroslav Holík when he made his remarks.
He stopped serving in that role at the close of November and start of December 2017 because, according to Holík, Staník's party secretary duties were taking up too much of his time. The chair of the SPD subsequently announced that Staník was no longer either a member or a secretary of the SPD movement.
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