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Czech ultra-nationalist MP could evade prosecution for calling immigrant Muslims an "invasive species"

23.4.2020 10:43
The Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic.
The Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic.

On 21 April the Committee on Mandates and Immunity of the Czech Chamber of Deputies unanimously rejected a motion that Czech MP Karla Maříková ("Freedom and Direct Democracy" - SPD) be stripped of her immunity from prosecution. Police want to charge her because of dehumanizing remarks she made about migrants.

The plenary session today could decide on whether to strip the MP of immunity or not. In January 2019 she posted a comment to Facebook comparing migrants to "invasive species" of animals or plants who should be banned from entering the European Union.

That post was later reviewed by police on suspicion of felony incitement to hatred. Many members of the Committee on Mandates and Immunity expressed doubt about the affair even though they disagree with her remarks.

On Tuesday, a police detective presented the evidence to committee members and the MP herself gave a statement. Vice-chair of the committee, Czech MP Petr Gazdík (Mayors and Independents - STAN), said that "with all due respect", the detective "had not been very convincing".

"[The detective] argued that the statement by Madame Deputy has a greater impact on the population because she is a politician," the vice-chair said. According to him, the committee was of the exactly opposite opinion, namely, that an MP should always be protected with regard to his or her speech, even though he believes this remark was exceptionally stupid.

"Madame Deputy should consider her words more carefully and not desecrate the name of the Chamber of Deputies by making remarks of this sort," the vice-chair said. Maříková had asked the committee not to recommend that she be stripped of her immunity from prosecution, he said.

The MP defended herself by citing previous similar remarks made by others who were never prosecuted for them, according to the vice-chair. The prosecutor was also scheduled to appear before the MPs on the committee to explain why the prosecution was important.

"The prosecutor found the request of the committee regarding stripping the MP of immunity so important that even though he was expressly invited to the session, he did not attend, and he excused himself with reference to the state of emergency. We therefore adjusted ourselves to his comprehension of the urgency of this criminal prosecution," commented Czech MP Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09), a committee member, on Twitter.

Maříková had posted to her Facebook profile more than a year ago that "it is banned to import invasive, non-indigenous species of plants and animals to the territory of the EU. Muslim immigrants also are not indigenous inhabitants of Europe and, just like invasive species, they pose the risk of unexpected dissemination and of gradually pushing out the indigenous inhabitants of Europe. For that reason, their entry onto the territory of the EU should also be banned."

Other Czech lawmakers have also escaped prosecution for otherwise criminal speech

During this legislature other MPs have faced the threat of prosecution over remarks they have made, namely, Zdeněk Ondráček (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia - KSČM) and Miloslav Rozner (SPD). Police wanted to charge Ondráček over his remarks against former presidential candidate Michal Horáček, whom he accused through the media of having collaborated with the State Security forces during communism.

As for Rozner, police wanted to charge him over a remark he made about the former concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku. The SPD lawmaker used the phrase "non-existing pseudo-concentration camp" when criticizing the decision by the previous Government to buy out the industrial pig farm located on the grounds of the former camp.

The lower house declined to strip those legislators of immunity from prosecution. That verdict means police could charge any of these lawmakers over these matters once they leave office and lose their immunity.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Policie, Poslanecká sněmovna, Výroky, Xenofobie



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