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Czech court upholds limits on media using nicknames for politicians

13.2.2017 7:06
This image of Czech MP Tomio Okamura as the clown
This image of Czech MP Tomio Okamura as the clown "Pitomio" on the cover of the magazine Reflex does not require an apology, but the nickname can only be used as part of "legitimate" criticism, according to the High Court in 2017.

The Prague High Court confirmed on 31 January that it would only have been legal for the weekly magazine Reflex to use the nickname "Pitomio" (a pun on a word meaning "fool") to refer to Tomio Okamura, the chair of the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" movement, if it had done so in a context of legitimate criticism. Corrupting the politician's name for no reason is not allowed.

News server Lidovky.cz reported on the High Court verdict on 1 February. According to the appeals court, the weekly does not have to apologize for using an image of Okamura on the cover of its print edition and online that caricatured him as a clown.

The dispute between Okamura, who is the former boss of the "Dawn" (Úsvit) party and a current MP, and the Czech News Center firm, which publishes Reflex, concerns articles from 2013 in which the editors referred to Okamura as a clown named "Pitomio". The Municipal Court in Prague instructed the publisher to apologize online in July 2015 and banned Reflex from using the nickname "unless such an reference is an expression of legitimate criticism".

Okamura appealed that verdict. He wanted Reflex to have to publish its apology directly in the print edition of the magazine and also sought recovery of his court costs and compensation of CZK 300 000 [EUR 11 000] from the publisher.

The High Court in Prague, according to its spokesperson, Jan Fořt, has now upheld the lower court verdict in its entirety and rejected Okamura's appeal. The MP told Lidovky.cz that he will consider what steps to take next after receiving the appeals verdict in writing.

Okamura could decide to turn to the Supreme Court next. Reflex has already apologized to Okamura once for corrupting his name, in 2014, on the basis of a decision by the Prague District Court, after the magazine violated that court's order and referred to the MP as "Pitomio".

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Média, Tomio Okamura, Trial, Verdict



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