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Czech ultra-right extremist on trial for approving of genocide, inciting hatred against Jews and refugees

25.7.2017 11:02
The chair of the ultra-right National Democracy party, the extremist Adam B. Bartoš, at the opening of his trial on 20 July 2017. (PHOTO: Vít Hassan)
The chair of the ultra-right National Democracy party, the extremist Adam B. Bartoš, at the opening of his trial on 20 July 2017. (PHOTO: Vít Hassan)

The chair of the ultra-right National Democracy (Národní demokracie - ND) party, extremist Adam B. Bartoš, asked to read into the court record all of the writings that are the basis of the charges against him for approving of genocide, denying genocide, inciting hatred and defaming national groups. Justice Pavla Hájková rejected his request as unnecessary, but his attorney is considering appealing her decision.

The trial opened before the District Court for Prague 1 on 20 July and will continue in October. "I think if somebody is convicted of having authored or published a book, it should be possible for them to read that book before the court so that, during the public trial, it will be possible to learn what content gave rise to the charges," Robert Cholenský, who represents the ultra-right extremist, told journalists after the hearing.

The attorney went on to say he is considering objecting to the court's procedure, but according to the presiding justice it is not possible to file a complaint in such a case. "This is the normal procedural approach," Hájková told the Czech News Agency.

"I rejected his motion to present his evidence that way because it is unnecessary, the excerpts I have in the file are enough for me, and I will read them into the record during the next hearing," the justice said. In October the court will hear testimony from an expert who has assessed the author's actions as a form of neo-Nazism.

The expert might also play recordings of speeches made by Bartoš and of articles he has authored. Neither the defense nor the state prosecutor has asked that any other witnesses testify.

According to the indictment, Bartoš has published books against Jewish people. In his articles, commentaries posted to the Internet, and speeches, the ultra-right extremist has attributed solely negative characteristics to Jewish people, according to state prosecutor Jan Maršálek.

Bartoš is described as presenting selectively chosen, twisted, unsubstantiated assertions that seek to consolidate existing prejudices about the harmfulness of the Jewish people, immigrants and Muslims. The defendant did not testify in court on 20 July but just made a brief statement.

The activist claims he is insisting that he be allowed to read the books into the record so "the judge can assess what is actually in them". "Certainly nobody can be convicted in a democracy for having written, published or distributed a book," he said.

When asked by a journalist whether he dislikes Jewish people, Bartoš answered that such a conclusion "is absurd". The Czech justice system has previously convicted Bartoš and given him a one-year suspended sentence for authoring an anti-Jewish text that was placed at the memorial to Anežka Hrůzová, who was murdered in 1899 in the town of Polná in the Jihlava area.

Prosecution of that crime sparked a wave of antisemitism in what was then still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Bartoš was seeking to revive that sentiment today. He told the press on 20 July that he has appealed the verdict in that case to the Czech Supreme Court in Brno.

agw, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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