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Court halts prosecution of ex-deputy minister denouncing Romas

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Prague, May 15 (CTK) – A court has conditionally halted the prosecution of former Czech deputy industry and trade minister Karel Novotny who was denouncing Roma people on Facebook, and has given him a one-year probationary period during which he must behave himself, state attorney Jan Lelek told CTK on Tuesday.

Novotny has written in his comment on the Internet that the Roma are like jellyfish because they are “a nuisance, good for nothing.”

He faced the defamation of nation charges over his statements.

The state attorney’s office filed a legal complaint against Novotny in February over his statements released on a publicly available Facebook profile last autumn, Lelek, head of the Prague 1 district state attorneys, said.

Novotny faced up to three years in prison if convicted.

Novotny joined the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) in 1998 and he left it in connection with his Facebook scandal last November.

He was deputy mayor of Most, north Bohemia, a town with a sizeable Roma minority, in 2010-2014. In February 2014, he became deputy industry and trade minister in charge of business and consumers’s protection in the previous coalition government of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).

Then industry and trade minister Jiri Havlicek (CSSD) rebuked Novotny under the Labour Code for his words on the Romas and stripped him of his regular bonuses for three months.

Novotny then apologised for what he had said and offered his resignation.

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