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May 27, 2022



Czech Supreme Court upholds sentence for hate posted about non-white first-graders: Not a joke, but the promotion of Nazism

15.10.2021 7:29
The original photograph of this first-grade class in the Plynárenská School in Teplice, Czech Republic sparked a wave of online racism in 2017. The word in Cyrillic superimposed on the image is
The original photograph of this first-grade class in the Plynárenská School in Teplice, Czech Republic sparked a wave of online racism in 2017. The word in Cyrillic superimposed on the image is "Neklan", a reference to the Facebook page named after a mythical Bohemian prince and featuring nationalist content from which the photo was shared (it has since been deleted). News server has blurred the faces of the pupils in order to protect their identities.

The comment posted online beneath a photograph of first-graders in a primary school in Teplice, Czech Republic was hate speech and cannot be considered "black humor" or protected by freedom of speech, according to the Czech Supreme Court, which has rejected the appeal of Vítězslav Kroupa, who has been sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for three years, for the post. The court's decision was handed down this summer without being publicized and its full justification has now been made available. 

The first-grade class at the Plynárenská Street Primary School was predominantly attended by Arab and Romani children. "They're from the Plynárenská ["Gasworks"] Primary School. The solution is obvious," Kroupa commented beneath a photograph of the class on Facebook. 

The Czech Supreme Court said Kroupa's comment indicated an opportunity to annihilate "undesirable ethnicities" in gas chambers, i.e., to do this in the same way that the Nazis systematically murdered Jewish people and others during the Second World War. "In a democracy under the rule of law, based on respect for constitutionally-guaranteed civil and human rights, such remarks are unacceptable and it is necessary to respond to them by prosecuting them," their decision reads. 

The defense had alleged that Kroupa's comment was "black humor". The Czech Supreme Court did not find that argument credible and rejected the option of linguistic analysis to that effect being submitted as expert testimony.

"This was absolutely, unequivocally not about humor, and not just because of the absence of emoticons, but primarily because of the overall context in which the comment was written and into which it was inserted, as well as with regard to the ultra-right orientation of the accused," the judges said. According to his appeal, Kroupa believes he has essentially been convicted of holding "incorrect opinions", but even that is not true, according to the Czech Supreme Court.

"The holding of certain values or opinions is not an offense that is prosecutable and cannot be. On the other hand, the public incitement of hatred, or the display of sympathy for hateful movements, must be prosecuted under the conditions established through the Criminal Code," the judges wrote in their decision. Kroupa was also convicted of publishing an image of the Nazi Reich eagle holding the Nazi swastika as well as publishing portraits of convicted Nazi war criminal Hermann Göring and Adolf Hitler through social media. 

When Kroupa posted a photo of Hitler raising his right arm in the Nazi salute, he added the comment:  "Have beautiful white dreams, Friends." In his appeal, Kroupa's defense attorney reproached the lower court judges for not specifying the concrete movement of which Kroupa is a sympathizer in their verdict. 

The defense alleged that referring to the "contemporary neo-Nazi scene" is insufficient because the Nazism represented by Göring and Hitler is a dead movement. The Czech Supreme Court upheld the lower court verdict in that regard as well.

"The neo-Nazi movement as a whole is by no means a 'dead' movement and it exists today as well, although the original movement (German Nazism) upon which the neo-Nazi movement is based no longer exists," the decision says. According to the Czech Supreme Court, Kroupa's verbal and visual messages on social media are the "absolutely plain and simple promotion of neo-Nazism". 

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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