Czech prosecutors announce first indictment in case of online hate speech against first-graders
Police in Frýdek-Místek, Czech Republic have indicted the first suspect in the case of the hateful commentaries posted to online social networks last year beneath the photographs of first-graders at a primary school in Teplice. If convicted the man could be sent to prison for as long as three years.
Czech Television reported the news on 9 April. The first grade class is attended predominantly by children of Arab, Romani and Vietnamese origin.
Police are still investigating two more suspects in the case. A photograph of the first-graders was posted last year to the website of the local edition of the Deník daily, which also publishes first-graders' photos in other local editions elsewhere every year.
After the photo was released it was shared through online social networks, where some people began to call the children "young suicide assassins". They also made jokes about the fact that the school is located on Plynárenská Street ("Gasworks Street") and proposed gassing the children to death.
"A grenade would fit on the shelf there just right," was one of the many violent commentaries posted. Threats were also made against the educators and the school management.
"In this matter the man has been charged with felony incitement against a group of persons or incitement to limit their rights and freedoms. He can be punished by deprivation of liberty from six months to three years," police spokesperson Karolína Bělunková told Czech Television.
The behavior of another suspect was first assessed by police as a misdemeanor and dealt with by the misdemeanor department of the local authority in Tachov. The supervising state prosecutor, however, has instructed that particular case be returned to police for evaluation as a felony.
A third suspect under police investigation in Teplice has yet to be interrogated. The case sparked a wave of public solidarity and support last year.
Two fundraising drives were established to benefit the school. The attacks on the children were also condemned by many politicians and public figures such as the Public Defender of Rights Anna Šabatová and the musician Michael Kocáb.
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