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Czech lower house committee chooses attorney now facing disciplinary action for making light of racist crime to join public broadcasting board

19.5.2021 6:59
The original photograph of this first-grade class in the Plynárenská School in Teplice, Czech Republic sparked a wave of online racism in 2017. The word in Cyrillic superimposed on the image is
The original photograph of this first-grade class in the Plynárenská School in Teplice, Czech Republic sparked a wave of online racism in 2017. The word in Cyrillic superimposed on the image is "Neklan", a reference to the Facebook page named after a mythical Bohemian prince and featuring nationalist content from which the photo was shared (it has since been deleted). News server Romea.cz has blurred the faces of the pupils in order to protect their identities.

Last week the Czech Chamber of Deputies' Electoral Commission used a secret ballot process to choose yet another potential candidate to be appointed to the board of public broadcaster Czech Television, attorney Michael Mann, as a replacement for candidate Jiří Grund, who has withdrawn for personal reasons. Mann is infamous for his public response to a scandal involving the racist insults and death threats made on social media against first-graders attending the Plynárenská Street Primary School in Teplice, Czech Republic, most of whom are of Arab or Romani origin.

Mann represented one of the racist commentators involved and a disciplinary procedure has been opened against him by the Czech Bar Association because of his remarks made to the media about that case. The social media content at issue was posted in response to the official photo of the first grade class after it was published online by a local news outlet, commenting as follows:  "It's a good thing they're from the Plynárenská [Gasworks] Primary School. The solution is right there."

When public broadcaster Czech Radio interviewed him about the case, Mann said he himself had laughed when he had read the comment online. "It's classic black humor," he alleged.

"As I said in my closing remarks, it's a joke about Jews - it is based on double entendre and on some historical knowledge. All black humor is based on some kind of brutality," Mann claimed in the interview.

"Before I had agreed to represent my client, I laughed when I saw that on the Internet," Mann said in that interview. According to the chair of the Audit Council of the Czech Bar Association, Mann violated his duty as an attorney by making those remarks. 

Iva Chaloupková, spokesperson for the Bar Association, was asked by the Czech News Agency on 12 May about the disciplinary proceeding against Mann and said it is still underway. According to Czech MP Tomáš Martínek (Pirates), Mann received eight out of 15 votes during the Electoral Commission's secret ballot to appoint him as a candidate for a place on the Czech Television board. 

There are six MPs from the governing ANO party on the committee, two from the "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) party, two from the Pirates and one each from the Czech Social Democratic Party, the Christian Democrats, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the Civic Democratic Party and the Mayors and Independents party. The lower house will choose the next board member for public broadcaster Czech Television in plenary session from the completed list of 12 finalists, probably next month.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Česká televize, Extremism, Poslanecká sněmovna, Racism



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