Slovak MP insulted Romani people and spread xenophobia, loses his seat after being convicted of felony defamation
Milan Mazurek, an MP for the fascist "Kotleba-People's Party Our Slovakia" (Kotleba-Lidová strana Naše Slovensko, or LSNS), has lost his seat in Slovakia's unicameral legislature. On 3 September the Supreme Court upheld a lower court verdict finding that the xenophobic remarks Mazurek had made on a radio program constituted a felony.
According to the Slovak media, Mazurek is the first MP to lose a seat due to a conviction of any kind in Slovakia. He faced charges over remarks he made on a program broadcast by a private regional radio station in 2016, where he spoke about the alleged "inadaptability" of ethnic Roma in association with the committing of vandalism and violence, insulted them, and also alleged that Islamic migrants are associated with danger.
The first-instance court fined him EUR 5 000 for making those remarks. Both the MP and the prosecutor appealed that verdict.
Mazurek defended himself to the Supreme Court by saying he had been exercising his freedom of speech, challenging the expert opinion submitted by the prosecution as well as the very authenticity of the audio recording of the radio debate on which the first-instance court based its decision. The Supreme Court then ruled the first-instance verdict lawful and also increased the fine to EUR 10 000.
According to the Slovak Constitution, an MP loses his or her seat if a court finds the MP guilty of an intentionally-committed felony. The misconduct of which Mazurek has been convicted is just such a crime.
After the verdict was announced, he told journalists that he does not regret the remarks. "I have nothing to be sorry for," he said.
"I was just speaking the truth," Mazurek claimed. His attorney announced he would be filing for extraordinary remedy against the Supreme Court decision, but that will not influence the fact that the verdict pronounced has already taken effect.
Marian Kotleba, chair of the LSNS, has criticized the decision. "The real punishment is for MP Mazurek to lose his seat," he said.
"This cannot be perceived as anything but an attempt to silence one of the most active MPs in the National Assembly," Kotleba said. However, in July the Supreme Court upheld the decision of a lower court acquitting a different LSNS MP, Stanislav Mizík, in association with xenophobic remarks he made on social media.
Mizík faced charges over having alleged that figures given high state honors in 2017 by then-President Andrej Kiska were of Jewish origin. According to the court, the prosecution did not prove that Mizík himself was actually the author of the social media post at issue.
This past spring the Supreme Court also rejected a motion from the Prosecutor General to dissolve the LSNS, which according to public opinion polls is the country's third most popular party. Back then the court rejected all the main arguments put forward by the Office of the Prosecutor General, which had previously described the LSNS as extremist.
The LSNS makes no secret of its sympathy for the wartime Slovak State, which was allied with Nazi Germany. The party also defines itself as opposed to EU and NATO membership and as against the Romani minority as such.
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