Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry

Recent Developments

CZECH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS COMPLAINT BY CONVICTED HOLOCAUST DENIER

5/2/2014- "The Czech Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint filed with it by the Czech-Canadian author Vladimír Stwora, who has been convicted in the Czech Republic of using the internet to doubt the extent of the Holocaust. While the prisoner amnesty announced by former Czech President Václav Klaus had already cancelled the suspended sentence handed down against Stwora, he insisted on having his complaint against it heard by the court. According to the Constitutional Court justices, the Czech judicial system made no error when it ruled that the publishing of a translated article relativizing the Nazi genocide of the Jews met the definition of supporting and promoting a movement aiming to suppress the rights and freedoms of citizens. In his complaint against that ruling, Stwora defended himself by saying he had merely intended to spark discussion. 

Stwora said the lower court had chosen an interpretation of the law that was too strict and that it would result in making any expert, historical or technical reflections about the past impossible. His complaint alleged that the court's interpretation completely unnecessarily ruled out and suppressed freedom of thought. The Constitutional Court justices based their ruling on the claim that freedom of speech is not absolute and that its outer limit ends, for example, precisely with Holocaust denial. The Constitutional Court therefore found no reason to intervene against the lower court ruling. "The Constitutional Court has verified that the public courts were repeatedly involved with the given matter in detail and to a sufficient extent. When evaluating the constitutional complaint, the court found no undue license in their proceedings," the Constitutional Court ruling reads. 

The scandal concerned a Czech-language translation of an article entitled "The Holocaust and its four-million version" ("Holokaust a jeho ètyømilionová varianta") published in July 2007 on the website www.zvedavec.org. The text includes the following sentence: "In reality there exists no proof that poisonous gas, gas chambers, or gas ovens were used in any death camp." According to the indictment, Stwora published the text with the intention of contravening "the essence and extent of the Nazi genocide against the Jews during the Second World War." Stwora responded by claiming that the article did not doubt the Holocaust, but merely pointed to discrepancies between official sources of information about it. Stwora also argued that he has the right to freedom of speech. In 2011, after a protracted trial before the Praha-západ District Court, the Regional Court in Prague sentenced Stwora to six months in prison, suspended for two years, for promoting and supporting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. 

The District Court acquitted Stwora twice before the Regional Court ruled against him. The Czech Supreme Court then rejected an appeal he filed with them in 2012."
© Romea. 
http://www.romea.cz/en/

Czech Constitutional Court rejects complaint by convicted Holocaust denier

Brno5.2.2014 2:09, (ROMEA)

 

 "The Czech Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint filed with it by the Czech-Canadian author Vladimír Stwora, who has been convicted in the Czech Republic of using the internet to doubt the extent of the Holocaust. While the prisoner amnesty announced by former Czech President Václav Klaus had already cancelled the suspended sentence handed down against Stwora, he insisted on having his complaint against it heard by the court.

According to the Constitutional Court justices, the Czech judicial system made no error when it ruled that the publishing of a translated article relativizing the Nazi genocide of the Jews met the definition of supporting and promoting a movement aiming to suppress the rights and freedoms of citizens. In his complaint against that ruling, Stwora defended himself by saying he had merely intended to spark discussion. 

Stwora said the lower court had chosen an interpretation of the law that was too strict and that it would result in making any expert, historical or technical reflections about the past impossible. His complaint alleged that the court's interpretation completely unnecessarily ruled out and suppressed freedom of thought.  

The Constitutional Court justices based their ruling on the claim that freedom of speech is not absolute and that its outer limit ends, for example, precisely with Holocaust denial. The Constitutional Court thereforefound no reason to intervene against the lower court ruling.  

"The Constitutional Court has verified that the public courts were repeatedly involved with the given matter in detail and to a sufficient extent. When evaluating the constitutional complaint, the court found no undue license in their proceedings," the Constitutional Court ruling reads.   

The scandal concerned a Czech-language translation of an article entitled "The Holocaust and its four-million version" ("Holokaust a jeho čtyÅ™milionová varianta") published in July 2007 on the website www.zvedavec.org. The text includes the following sentence:  "In reality there exists no proof that poisonous gas, gas chambers, or gas ovens were used in any death camp." 

According to the indictment, Stwora published the text with the intention of contravening "the essence and extent of the Nazi genocide against the Jews during the Second World War." Stwora responded by claiming that the article did not doubt the Holocaust, but merely pointed to discrepancies between official sources of information about it.  

Stwora also argued that he has the right to freedom of speech. In 2011, after a protracted trial before the Praha-západ District Court, the Regional Court in Prague sentenced Stwora to six months in prison, suspended for two years, for promoting and supporting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms.

The District Court acquitted Stwora twice before the Regional Court ruled against him. The Czech Supreme Court then rejected an appeal he filed with them in 2012."

 

Presidential amnesty applies to suspended sentences for far rightists (Czech Rep.)
11/2/2013- The Brno City Court has remitted suspended sentences imposed on six ultra-right radicals for their statements at a May Day rally in Brno in 2009 since the presidential amnesty applies to them, Workers' Party of Social Justice (DSSS) deputy head Jiri Stepanek told CTK Friday. The amnestied include Tomas Vandas, chairman of the DSSS, successor to the outlawed Workers' Party (DS), who was given a four-month suspended sentence with a 20-month probation over his words on the "immigrants' disastrous tsunami." Along with Vandas, the amnesty also applies to Stepanek, Michal Glas, Michaela Rodova, Petr Kotab and Martin Zbela who uttered their extremist statements as members of the DS that was later dissolved. The Brno City Court gave them suspended sentences from four to eight months with a 20-month up to two-year probation in 2011. The City Court originally also imposed fines on the rightist extremists but the Brno Regional Court lifted them later.

All accused challenged the verdict calling it unlawful and unjust. They said the court had ruled on the basis of an untrustworthy and illogical expert opinion. They tried to play down their original statements, calling them jokes and allegories during the trial. However, the Supreme Court rejected their appellate review. According to the court, Vandas and his fellow defendants had encroached upon the rights of ethnic minorities living in the Czech Republic, mainly Romanies and Vietnamese. The Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) dissolved the DS in February 2010, complying with the proposal of the government saying the DS is extremist and poses a threat to democracy. Afterwards, its leadership along with Vandas established the far-right DSSS. President Vaclav Klaus's New Year amnesty applies to convicts with low suspended or prison sentences and elderly convicts. It also halts criminal proceedings if they have lasted for more than eight years, and if the maximum prison sentence that can be imposed in such cases does not exceed ten years.
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