Czech MP who compared Muslim immigrants to "invasive species" will not be stripped of immunity from prosecution
On Wednesday, 27 May, after three hours of debate, the Czech lower house decided not to strip Czech MP Karla Maříková of her immunity from prosecution for her remarks made on social media about Muslim immigrants. The Chamber of Deputies' Immunity and Mandate Committee had previously recommended she not be stripped of immunity.
Police will not be able to charge the MP over her unlawful statements until she leaves office. Just five of the 165 MPs present voted in favor of stripping her immunity.
The number of those voting against lifting her immunity so she could be charged was 138. In January 2019, Maříková used her Facebook profile to compare Muslim immigrants to "invasive species" of animals and plants and said their entry into the EU should be banned.
Police later began to investigate those remarks on suspicion of felony incitement to hatred and defamation of an ethnic group, nation or race. The lower house's decision does not mean the case is absolutely closed, however.
Maříková could be charged once she stops being protected by immunity in elected office. "I did not call for any violence in my post and I did not insult anybody, I just paused to note a paradox coming from the EU," she said after the request to strip her of immunity was made.
The accused MP sees the case as politicized because she believes it was another politician from her region who drew the attention of police to her remarks, even though she believes they "did not concern" him. During the lower house debate, MPs from the ultranationalist "Freedom and Direct Democracy" (SPD) movement especially spoke in her defense.
Those MPs called the case politicized and said it is necessary to uphold freedom of speech. They claimed the accusation was about criminalizing the SPD and expressed their disagreement with the fact that the case had been referenced in a report by the Czech Interior Ministry on extremism even though it was still in the preliminary phase of investigation.
During the debate, MPs from other parties also cast doubt on the approach taken toward the case by detectives, although some did expressly state that the remark at issue was "stupid". Maříková wrote on her Facebook profile that "it is banned to import invasive, non-indigenous species of plants and animals to EU territory. Muslim immigrants are also not indigenous inhabitants of Europe and just like invasive species will spread unexpectedly and gradually push out the indigenous inhabitants of Europe. For that reason, they should also be banned from entering EU territory."
Two other MPs who faced the threat of prosecution this election period for similar remarks are Zdeněk Ondráček (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia - KSČM) and Miloslav Rozner (SPD). Police wanted to charge Ondráček over his remarks about former presidential candidate Michal Horáček.
Ondráček accused the candidate in the media of having collaborated with the former communist State Security service. As for Rozner, police wanted to prosecute him for his remark about the former concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku.
Rozner, when criticizing the decision of the previous Government to buy out the industrial pig farm that overlapped the site of the former concentration camp, used the phrase "non-existing pseudo-concentration camp". Neither MP has been stripped of immunity from prosecution.
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