Czech court sentences social media user to two years in prison, suspended for two years, for promoting terrorism
The High Court in Prague has upheld a conditional two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, against Jaroslav Hanzlíček for promoting and supporting terrorism. He was indicted for having used his personal Facebook profile to approve of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019.
Fifty people in two different mosques were murdered during the attack. The High Court said Hanzlíček had previously admitted to having written the social media post because he was not aware of the consequences such behavior might incur for him.
The Regional Court in Ústí nad Labem sentenced Hanzlíček in the spring, and on 19 August the appeals venue reviewed the prosecutor's motion to charge Hanzlíček with a more serious crime. The prosecutor decided to charge him with committing his crime through a publicly accessible computer network.
According to the milder paragraph of that same law, Hanzlíček would have faced between two and 10 years in prison, but according to the stricter paragraph the court could have sentenced him to anywhere between five and 15 years. Presiding Judge Vladimír Stibořík, however, said the stricter punishment would be disproportionate.
Stibořík pointed out that the action taken by Hanzlíček had just been a verbal expression of his views, essentially the "stupid blather of the pub being published on the Internet". The judge said he believe the criminal proceedings during which Hanzlíček had faced the possibility of a long sentence might have already served its purpose and said of the two-year suspended sentence that "To prevent recidivism, that punishment is sufficient."
Hanzlíček was indicted more than two years ago when he posted the following message to his personal Facebook profile: "Repeat the events in New Zealand in Europe too, please." He added a "smiley face" emoticon to the text of his post.
The defendant did not attend the sentencing hearing on 19 August. His remark was posted in the aftermath of the news in March 2019 that a right-wing extremist from Australia had shot dead 50 children, men and women in consecutive attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The terrorist broadcast his crime live through the Internet in real time. In association with approval of this crime, the Czech courts have dealt with more than one such case and have handed down suspended prison sentences against the social media users found guilty.
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