Slovak ultra-right MP tried for extremism after making xenophobic remarks about Roma
The trial began on Monday, 26 February of Slovak MP Milan Mazurek from the ultra-right "Kotleba-People's Party Our Slovakia" (LSNS) for his xenophobic remarks about Romani people, among other matters. Although the MP faces possible prison time and the loss of his seat in the legislature, he refused to testify in court.
The hearing continued into 27 February. Mazurek is charged over remarks he made on a commercial regional radio station in 2016 alleging the inadaptability, vandalism and violence of ethnic Romani people, insulting them as a group and also alleging that Islamic immigrants are associated with danger.
News server SME.sk reported that on 27 February an expert witness testified that his findings confirmed the MP had made defamatory, hateful remarks about the Romani community. Mazurek's attorney then alleged that the expert is Jewish.
The expert's testimony took up the entire late morning of the hearing. When he was finished, the defendant's attorney objected that the expert was biased because of his allegedly Jewish origin.
The prosecutor said the defendant's objection was baseless and the judge then rejected it. The prosecutor also said the findings presented to the court by the expert corresponded to the indictment and confirmed the defamatory, hateful nature of the remarks made by the MP about the Romani community on the Rádio Frontinus program in October 2016.
The Specialized Criminal Court (STS) in Slovakia, which reviews the most serious criminal cases, sentenced Mazurek last year in the case by fining him EUR 5 000 without holding a hearing. The MP appealed and the court then organized the regular trial that was held last week.
Slovak media reported that on the first day of the trial dozens of LSNS sympathizers assembled before the courthouse in Banská Bystrica to chant and wave banners in support of Mazurek beneath the windows of the courtroom, disrupting the proceedings. The radio station itself has already been fined EUR 15 000 by the Slovak broadcast licensing board.
According to the indictment, Mazurek committed the crime in his capacity as a public official. During the program called "Debate", he telephoned in and was introduced as an LSNS MP in the National Council and a member of its Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Sexual Equality.
"Among other matters he made remarks that, in the context of the entire appearance on the radio broadcast, fulfill the definition of defamatory speech regarding affiliation with the Romani ethnicity in particular, speech of a racist character, the content of which indicates an intention to spark hatred against members of that ethnic group, " news server SME.sk reported. According to the Slovak licensing board, the commercial radio station broke the law banning the dissemination of content inciting hatred on the basis of affiliation with a nationality or an ethnic group or on the basis of faith and religion.
Mazurek is infamous for his controversial statements. The legislature itself fined him EUR 1 000 for defamatory remarks he made about Islam last year, just as it fined Slovak MP Stanislav Mizík, also of the LSNS.
The Prosecutor indicted Mizík in January 2018 for remarks he made on social networking sites about some of the figures to whom Slovak President Andrej Kiska awarded high state honors, alleging that they were Jewish. The court returned that indictment back to the Prosecutor after discovering a procedural error.
Slovak legislators have not enjoyed general immunity from prosecution since the autumn of 2012. It is not possible to investigate a legislator for casting a vote, nor is it possible to indict a legislator for remarks made on the floor of Parliament.
Should an MP be convicted of an intentionally committed felony, which extremist crimes are considered to be, the Constitution requires that MP to lose his or her seat in the legislature. Last year's fine, which Mazurek appealed in order to stay in office, was for a conviction on charges of defamation on the basis of nationality, race or belief together with a conviction on charges of incitement and threats against persons because of their affiliation with a race, nation, nationality, skin color, ethnicity or ancestry.
The Slovak Constitution says an MP's term will end "on the day a verdict takes effect convicting the MP of an intentional felony." Mazurek previously had problems with the law after comparing the events of the Holocaust to "fairy tales" on a social networking site.
"History is absolutely distorted by the victors and the Khazars. I'm not advocating for any regime, but all we know about the Third Reich are lies and fairy tales about six million [Jewish people murdered] and soap made out of Jews. Nothing but lies are taught about Hitler," he posted online.
The criminal justice authorities decided not to prosecute the MP for those online remarks. His trial over the radio broadcast will continue on 16 and 18 April 2018.
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