Czech courts definitively acquit publisher of Salafist book of promoting a movement against human rights
The acquittal of the former chair of the Muslim Community of Prague, Vladimír Sáňka, with respect to the case involving his distribution of a Czech translation of The Fundamentals of TAWHEED (Islamic Monotheism) (Základy tauhídu - Islámský koncept boha) has now been made definitive. According to InfoSoud, a database of judicial rulings, the Czech Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Supreme State Prosecutor Pavel Zeman against the acquittal.
The Supreme Court made its decision in January 2019 and at the beginning of February the file was returned to the District Court for Prague 1, which was the first-instance venue for the case. "The appeal has been rejected," InfoSoud reported.
The justification for rejecting the appeal is not yet available on the Supreme Court's website. The decision has also not yet been delivered to the Supreme State Prosecutor, according to his spokesperson, Petr Malý.
In his appeal, Zeman argued that Salafism should be especially assessed as a movement according to the Criminal Code definition. Experts had previously arrived at the conclusion that this is not about a movement but rather about a theological stream of conservative Islam.
According to prosecutors, the question is not an academic one but a legal one that the Prague courts should had resolved on their own terms. "Where an ideology exists that has many adherents, there is a movement," the appeals motion reads.
In the world envisioned by Bilal Philips, the author of the book, and his fellow-travelers there would be no place for freedom, plurality of opinions, or respect for others, the prosecutors said. Salafists are, according to the appeal, partially organized abroad at a minimum, otherwise they would not be able to disseminate their concept of Islam.
"There is no doubt that they hold grudges against Shiites, Jews, Christians and representatives (Governments) of the secular West," the prosecutors wrote. The Prague courts, according to the appeal, erred in not considering the opportunity for charging the defendant under a different legal qualification after acquitting him of the original indictment.
Instead of charging Sáňka with establishing, supporting and promoting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms, according to the prosecutors, he should have been convicted of incitement to hatred of a group of persons or incitement of the restriction of their rights and freedoms. According to the indictment it was he who arranged for the translation, publication and distribution of the book.
Sáňka has long rejected the accusations. The case is associated with a raid performed by what was then the anti-mafia unit of the police on Muslim centers in Prague in 2014.
The District Court for Prague 1 first acquitted Sáňka in 2016. That verdict was overturned by the appeals court and returned to the first-instance court with a request for further evidence.
A review assessment of the case was then undertaken. The second acquittal verdict was upheld on appeal by the Municipal Court in Prague.
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- † 17. 5. 1998, Orlová, Czech Republic: Milan Lacko