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Czech Prosecutor General appeals case to Supreme Court, says antisemitic death threats are a crime, not a misdemeanor

19.3.2021 6:58
Czech Prosecutor General Pavel Zeman (FOTO: NSZ)
Czech Prosecutor General Pavel Zeman (FOTO: NSZ)

Czech Prosecutor General Pavel Zeman has said he disagrees with a case of antisemitic death threats addressed to the Jewish Community in Prague being ruled a misdemeanor. He has appealed a recent such ruling and believes the author of the threats committed a felony.

The Czech Supreme Court will now decide the appeal, the text of which has been published online by the Prosecutor General. The message at issue, full of hatred, vulgarities and grammatical errors, was posted by the author in 2018 through an online contact form on the website of the Jewish Community.  

In the message, the author called Jewish people "insects", "parasites", and a "plague". "You yourselves are to blame for those Holocausts of yours," she wrote, adding the message "Hitler is coming for you" and the wish that Jewish people would be either annihilated or move to Israel. 

The Jewish Community contacted the police and the woman was charged with committing violence against a group and its individual members. The District Court for Prague 1 found her guilty, but because she had simultaneously been convicted in a different case, did not sentence her.

The woman appealed and the Municipal Court in Prague overturned the first-instance decision and sent the case instead to a misdemeanor commission. The appeals court expressed doubt as to whether the threats were capable of giving rise to reasonable concern that they would be realized, which is what would have justified their being considered a felony. 

According to the Prosecutor General, however, such doubts are inappropriate given the historical context, and mentioning "annihilation" is difficult to assess in any way other than as a threat to kill people, especially since the author was mentioning Adolf Hitler, the Nazi dictator. "It is, after all, a generally known and an unquestionable fact that Nazi German policy was primarily focused exactly on ethnic Jews and was based, among other things, on the systematic harassment, persecution and mass destruction of persons of Jewish origin in particular," the appeal reads.     

Prosecutors also referenced the growing number of antisemitic attacks ongoing in Europe today. According to Zeman, the accused woman never denied committing the illegal behavior, stands by what she wrote, and considers it to have been an exercise of her right to freely express her opinions. 

Zeman said such expressions of hatred toward a minority cannot be protected within the framework of freedom of speech. He ia asking the Supreme Court to return the case to the Municipal Court in Prague to continue the proceeding.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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antisemitism, Extremism, Racism, Verdict



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