Czech court hears testimony from former secretary to ultranationalist party about his bigoted outburst
Jaroslav Staník, the former secretary for the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" movement of Tomio Okamura, testified to the District Court for Prague 1 on 24 January about the 24 October 2017 incident in a restaurant on the grounds of the lower house during which he made hateful remarks about "homosexuals", Roma and Jews. He apologized for having vulgarly abused Marie Richterová, a former secretary to then-Labor Minister Michaela Marksová (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD).
According to Richterová, Staník was quite drunk and attempting to attract attention to himself with his speech about minorities. "He said to me: 'You stand up for the fags. You'll be next in line behind them'," Richterová told the court.
Richterová did not remember all the exact vulgarities used. Even though she did not know Staník at the time, he addressed her by her full name.
Testifying in court, Richterová said she is convinced that the former SPD secretary got her full name from the ultra-right White Media website. "I was working at the time, for example, on projects aiding Romani families with getting out of debt, but he kept talking about Muslims and 'homosexuals'," she added.
The extremist website White Media was blocked after the Office for the Protection of Personal Information requested it be taken down. The reason was that personal information had been published there without permission.
During the first hearing of the trial in December 2018, Staník testified that he had been celebrating the SPD electoral victory in the restaurant on the grounds of the lower house. Richterová confirmed that testimony.
"He kept shouting that they had won the elections. At first I believed he was from the ANO party," she testified.
Staník's remarks about minorities, in her view, did not give the impression that he desired to "incite hatred". Rather, he wanted to attract attention.
Waitresses from the restaurant also testified in court on 24 January, stating that they did not hear the remarks at issue. They said the bar had been full, people were talking loudly, and everybody was drinking alcohol.
The indictment accuses Staník of criminal incitement of hatred against a group and incitement of the limitation of their rights and freedoms, as well as with denying, doubting, approving of and justifying genocide. According to State Prosecutor Zuzana Beňová, the former SPD secretary was overheard to say that "fags and lesbians are sick and should be shot upon birth," as well as that "homosexuals", Roma and Jews should be gassed to death.
The defamatory remarks made by the former SPD secretary were confirmed to the court by former MP Marek Černoch and former MP Martin Lank (both Dawn - Úsvit). Staník has accused them both of perjury.
Staník told the court that his remarks had been taken out of context. He said that during a fiery debate he had quoted [sic] Master Jan Hus (1369-1415), whom he alleged had described Romani people as an "unclean breed that avoids work."
That statement, erroneously attributed to Jan Hus, was disseminated online several years ago. News server Romea.cz refuted it as unfounded in 2013.
"When we discuss solving the Romani question, I put it into a broader context," Staník explained, going on to mention the Patents of Charles IV (1316 -1378) or Empress Maria Theresa (1717 - 1780), alleging that Charles IV had ordered "gypsies" to be hung and that Maria Theresa had ordered their children to be taken away. He also reminded the court that in 1927 the Czechoslovak Parliament adopted a law about "wandering gypsies" ordering them to settle.
At the next hearing, Judge Helena Králová wants to question MP Jaroslav Holík, who was with Staník in the restaurant for dinner that evening. Králová had already sentenced Staník at the end of July 2018 to a year-long sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered him to pay a CZK 70 000 [ EUR 2 700] fine.
Staník disagreed with the accelerated sentence, so the judge had to schedule an open hearing. At the time of the incident, Staník was both an assistant to Holík and a secretary in the SPD.
He stopped working in the assistant role at the close of November and start of December 2017 because, according to Holík, the secretary role was taking up too much of his time. The SPD chair, Tomio Okamura, subsequently announced that Staník was no longer either a member or a secretary of the SPD.
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