The state must apologize for Zeman’s statement about journalist Peroutek

Updates: 02.07.2020 16:15
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Prague – The state must apologize through the Ministry of Finance for President Miloš Zeman calling journalist Ferdinand Peroutka the author of the article “Hitler is a gentleman”. The decision was made by the Prague City Court, which thus partially upheld the appeal of the journalist’s granddaughter Terezia Kaslová. The verdict is final, but Kaslová will still turn to the Supreme Court. He insists on an apology for all the president’s statements, including those that the Board of Appeal called the evaluation courts. The ministry will probably also file an appeal.

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“We have no doubt that the state is responsible for the president. It is not permissible for the state to interfere without any remedy with the personal rights of anyone if such an intervention is unjustified. There is no such thing as being outlawed, above the law, “said the chairman of the Board of Appeal Tomáš Novosad.

The dispute concerns Zeman’s speech in January 2015 at a conference to mark the anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. There, the President stated that Peroutka had published the article in Přítomnost magazine. He later added at a press conference that he had seen the article with his own eyes. However, the castle could not find the text in the archives, according to historians it does not exist and according to the court, the statement about Peroutka’s authorship was untrue.

The Ministry must therefore send an apology letter to Kaslová within seven days of the judgment becoming final and should also publish the apology on its website for a period of 30 days. The Office does not agree with the verdict. He has been insisting for a long time that the President’s public speech cannot be considered maladministration and that the state has not been obliged to compensate. The dispute will probably continue in Hrad – the president is, at his own request, an intervening party in the proceedings.

Zeman’s article “Hitler is a gentleman” cited as an example “the fascination of intellectuals with monstrous teachings.” At the same time, he attributed to Peroutek the quote “if we can’t sing with angels, we have to howl with wolves”, whose real author is Jan Stránský. The court stated that everyone is entitled to evaluation courts within the framework of freedom of speech. According to him, public persons, including Peroutka, must withstand wider criticism.

Kaslová originally sued the presidential office, and the judiciary partially granted her the right to apologize. At that time, the matter was also decided by the Novosad Senate and issued the same decision as today. However, after the intervention of the Supreme Court, the woman had to transfer the lawsuit to the Ministry of Finance. She told reporters today that she was not satisfied with the verdict, but still hopes that the truth will win.

Zeman’s lawyer Marek Nespala today described one of Peroutka’s texts as an “anti-Semitic manifesto”, and the journalist also accepted Hitler’s book Mein Kampf. He also insisted on a statement about the fascination with monstrous teachings – according to Nespala, he became an anti-fascist only after passing through the concentration camp. Kaslová’s lawyer, on the other hand, called Peroutka a patriot persecuted by the Nazis. He presented court greetings from several historians, who also defended the journalists.

The Court of Appeal also ruled that neither party to the dispute – including President Zeman – was entitled to legal costs. Zeman therefore failed to appeal, claiming that the district court had awarded him only ten percent of the legal representation expenses.

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