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

Updates: 02.07.2020 13:13
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Prague – The state must apologize through the Ministry of Finance for President Miloš Zeman repeatedly calling journalist Ferdinand Peroutka the author of the article “Hitler is a gentleman”. This was decided today 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.

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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. The path to remedy must be even if such a statement is made by the president. 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. The president stated there that Peroutka published the mentioned article in the magazine Přítomnost. He later told a news 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.

“It is clear to the Court of Appeal that it is a statement that is objectively capable of unjustifiably interfering with the personal rights of Mr. Ferdinand Peroutka. If such a statement is attributed to someone, it is not fair, it is not fair, it is disgraceful and the Czech Republic must excuse the president, “said Novosad.

The Ministry must send an apology letter to Kaslová and must also publish the apology on its website.

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.

The District Court for Prague 1 then rejected this lawsuit last year, according to which the speech of the head of state cannot be an incorrect official procedure for which the state is responsible. “Examining and basing the court of first instance on what specific norms the president has violated is completely unnecessary, inappropriate, does not correspond to case law and legal doctrine,” Novosad said.

At the same time, the Court of Appeal ruled today that none of the parties to the dispute, including President Zeman as his intervener, is entitled to reimbursement of legal costs. Zeman thus failed to appeal, claiming that the district court awarded him only ten percent of the required costs of legal representation.

Kaslova told reporters that she was not very happy with the verdict. “It’s just a part, that’s why we’re calling. I still hope the truth wins. Of course I’m a little upset, but as that time goes by, and I’m getting used to a much worse situation as the truth is approached, the anger is already it is so distributed, but the feelings are the same, “she added.

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