Czech Supreme Court overturns acquittal on publication of Hitler's speeches, wants more evidence
The Czech Supreme Court has overturned the acquittal in the case of the publication of a book of speeches by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler in Czech translation. The case has been returned to the state prosecutor for further investigation and the accumulation of more evidence.
News server Lidovky.cz reported on the decision, which is available in full on the website of Tomáš Pecina, attorney for the Guidemedia publishing house. The appeal to the Supreme Court was filed by Supreme State Prosecutor Pavel Zeman.
The Supreme State Prosecutor did not agree with the lower courts' conclusions that publishing Hitler's speeches in this form is not criminal under applicable law. "The Supreme Court, based on a motion to appeal, overturned the verdicts at both levels and returned the matter to the state prosecutor for further investigation, finding the decision to have been premature, and ordered the finding of more evidence," Petr Malý, spokesperson for the Supreme State Prosecutor, told the Czech News Agency.
"This is about certain circumstances without which courts cannot make their decisions fairly, and those facts could and should have been clarified already during the preliminary proceedings prior to the lawsuit being filed," the Supreme Court's decision reads, mentioning as an example of missing evidence the possible connection of the defendants with extremist groups abroad or in the Czech Republic. The Supreme Court also expresses doubt over the impartiality of expert witness Jan B. Uhlíř, which Pecina called the only good news connected with the Supreme Court's decision.
"In all other respects the arcs of the prospective outcomes are not good," Pecina posted to his website about the decision. Defendants Stanislav Beer, Pavel Kamas and Lukáš Novák faced charges of approval of genocide in the Hitler speech case.
The indictment was also aimed against the publishing house itself. The Municipal Court and Regional Court in Brno acquitted all involved.
The appeals proceeding became protracted in 2015 due to an ultimately failed accusation of bias against the Supreme Court justices who were impaneled to hear the case because all three are former members of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Those who contributed to the publication of Hitler's speeches were facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
The courts in Brno found that they had not approved of genocide and that by publishing the speeches they were just presenting historical documents to readers. The indictment had reproached the book for including accompanying texts along with the authentic speeches that did not sufficiently distance themselves from the ideas of National Socialism and from Hitler's actions and speech.
A publisher of Hitler's book Mein Kampf in the Czech Republic has also been brought to trial in the past. That publisher first received a suspended sentence but was ultimately acquitted by the Supreme Court in March 2005.
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- † 17. 5. 1998, Orlová, Czech Republic: Milan Lacko