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Czech MP loses re-election and immunity, police reopen case of his calling Lety a "non-existent, pseudo-concentration camp" for Roma

14.10.2021 7:59
Miloslav Rozner (PHOTO:  Pirate Party, Wikimedia Commons)
Miloslav Rozner (PHOTO: Pirate Party, Wikimedia Commons)

The Czech criminal justice authorities will revisit the remarks made by now former MP Miloslav Rozner about the WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku. Several criminal reports were filed against him in response to his criticism of the decision by the administration of ANO, the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) and the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) to buy out the industrial pig farm that once covered part of the former concentration camp site, using the phrase "non-existent pseudo-concentration camp" to refer to the Lety facility.  

Officers had sought to prosecute Rozner on suspicion of the crime of denying, doubting, approving of or justifying genocide in 2019, but the lower house declined to strip him of his immunity. "With regard to the fact that the person you have named was not re-elected and the matter concerning him was suspended temporarily, in accordance with the Criminal Code, exactly for the reason of a lack of agreement to his criminal prosecution, the criminal justice authorities will now continue the matter," Aleš Cimbala, press spokesperson for the Prague Municipal State Prosecutor's office said when asked by news server Romea.cz about the reviving of Rozner's prosecution.  

Rozner had cast doubt in December 2017 on whether those who had been imprisoned in the concentration camp during the Holocaust because they were Romani had suffered as victims of that treatment, making his remarks at a "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) congress and criticizing the sale of the industrial pig farm that had partially covered the Lety site, calling it a "non-existent pseudo-concentration camp". An audio recording and transcription of his words was publicized by Czech Television's "168 Hours" program.  

"Yes, I'm not such an expert on culture as former Minister Herman, for example, but there is no doubt that I would never have thrown half a billion crowns out the window to close a functioning firm because of a non-existent pseudo-concentration camp," Rozner says in the recording. He was joining remarks previously made by the chair of the SPD, Tomio Okamura, who falsely alleged in an interview for the online DVTV channel that the camp had never been fenced and that the inmates had been able to come and go as they pleased.  

Rozner then claimed he had never doubted the suffering of anybody during the Nazi occupation. He said his remarks were about the cost of buying out the farm, which he considers to have been too high. 

"That suffering was exploited to expend an enormous amount of money for a project that does not deserve it in comparison to other locations where we have not yet managed to commemorate such suffering," Rozner defended himself during a session of the lower house. Police had first shelved the case against him after complaints were made.

The supervising prosecutor returned the case to detectives and the local prosecutor so the investigation would continue, as she disagreed with the original police conclusions. The police then asked the lower house to strip Rozner, who was an MP at the time, of his immunity from prosecution. 

Just 42 of the 155 MPs present for the vote on his case raised their hands in favor of stripping his immunity, with 88 voting against it. After failing his bid for re-election, Rozner, who is from South Bohemia where the Lety camp is located, told the Czech News Agency that he does not want to leave politics altogether. 

Rozner claims that he has decided to dedicate more time to his family and his managerial work for the Argema rock band, who will celebrate their 40th anniversary next year. Prior to his re-election bid this year, he conducted his own separate campaign in the print media. 

One of the headlines of an opinion piece he authored read "I want to keep grinding away at this" and was a response to his remarks from the autumn of 2017. He said he believes that by running his own campaign he probably aided the SPD with getting a better result. 

In South Bohemia the SPD ended up in fourth place, with one seat in the national legislature. For the next four years the SPD Tomio Okamura movement will have 20 MPs in the lower house total. 

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Hate, Lety u Písku, Policie, poslanec



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