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Czech politician and sports figure convicted of buying Romani votes

11.11.2016 10:30
--ilustrační foto--
--ilustrační foto--

The former Deputy Mayor of Most, Hana Jeníčková, was sentenced on Monday, 7 November 2016 to eight months in prison, conditionally postponed for one year, for obstructing the preparation and conduct of the municipal elections in 2014. The same punishment was handed down against the former director of the sports hall in Most, Jan Hašek.

The court ruled that the two promised to hold a party with free refreshments at the Chanov housing estate, which is predominantly inhabited by Romani people, if those people would cast preferential votes for Jeníčková in the local contest. The verdict has yet to take effect.

During the regional elections last month, Jeníčková, who is now vice-chair of the Severočeš ("North") movement as well as its Election Commissioner, removed all of the movement's candidates from consideration just one week prior to the election. Now the District Court in Most has ruled that in August 2014, she and Hašek wanted to win Romani votes at Chanov by using local community member Peter Bažo less than two months prior to the local elections. 

The court found that they urged Bažo to get voters at Chanov to cast preferential votes for Jeníčková in particular, who at that time was in sixth place on the candidate list of a different political entity, the "Association of Mosters for Most" (Sdružení Mostečané Mostu - SMM). "They promised him they would hold a party for those voters with free refreshments," the court verdict reads.

According to an audio recording that was played in court, Hašek was the first to meet with Bažo. "Those who will vote for Mostečany should also circle the right candidates on the list. That will aid us. I will put you in touch with Jeníčková, that's her job," Hašek was recorded as saying.

The court considered not entering the audio recordings into evidence at all. According to Judge Jitka Neterdová, they were illegally obtained.

"A recording acquired in this way can be used in the public interest, which in this case applies because this is about elections," the judge said when justifying her decision. The initiator of the recordings, according to the court, was probably not Bažo himself, but the entrepreneur Jiří Zelenka, who at that time was fighting with Jeníčková and her people for influence inside the Severočeš movement, which is ideologically related to the SMM.

Bažo gave the recordings to Zelenka after his meetings with Hašek. Zelenka then gave them to the police.

Jeníčková has not commented on the recent verdict. "No comment, darlings, no comment," she told the journalists who were waiting for her at the courthouse.

Both Hašek and Jeníčková are considering appeals. The SMM ultimately won 18.77 % of the votes in the 2014 local election and 10 seats on the Most local assembly, which has 45 members.

At the Chanov housing estate, the SMM won the local contest convincingly. More than 83 % of the votes cast there were for the SMM.

Voter turnout was also unusually high at Chanov during the 2014 local election. Almost 15 % of registered voters turned out then, while roughly 4 % turned out for this year's regional elections.

This year, in her role as the first vice-chair of the Severočeš, Jeníčková removed the party's Election Commissioner one week prior to the regional elections and appointed herself to the position. She then removed all of the party's candidates from the contest.

Prior to last month's elections, Severočeš had been the third-strongest entity on the Regional Assembly, but now it will no longer be represented there at all. Last week the court rejected a complaint filed by five candidates removed from the Severočeš list who are demanding that the vote be repeated.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Chanov, vote-buying, Most, Romové, soud, Volby 2014


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