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Supreme Court orders new trial in Zeman vs Peroutka dispute

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Prague, May 22 (CTK) – The Czech Supreme Court returned the dispute over President Milos Zeman’s apology for his words about late democratic journalist Ferdinand Peroutka to the district court for a new proceeding, Peroutka’s granddaughter Terezie Kaslova told CTK on Tuesday.

She said she is ready for another round of the dispute.

The Supreme Court has not released its verdict yet.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said he would comment on the verdict only after the Presidential Office gets acquainted with it.

Kaslova’s lawyer Frantisek Vyskocil said the Supreme Court concluded that the complaint should be based on a different law.

Vyskocil said the court rejected the Presidential Office’s argument that the president is not accountable for his statements. The president is accountable and it is the Czech state who bears the responsibility. The Czech state should not be represented by the Presidential Office but probably by one of the ministries according to the court, he told CTK.

Vyskocil said it took the Supreme Court 17 months to arrive at this decision, which seems a very long period of time.

Both Kaslova and Zeman’s office filed a recourse with the Supreme Court as neither side was happy about the Prague Municipal Court verdict which ruled that Zeman must partly apologise. Zeman’s office ignored this verdict. The Supreme Court said the office need not obey the verdict because it is not final and the apology would be irreversible.

Peroutka (1895-1978) was a prominent democratic journalist during the interwar period and was imprisoned by the Nazi regime in 1939-1945.

In his address at a conference on the Holocaust, Zeman said that Peroutka showed pro-Nazi leanings and he keeps insisting that he read Peroutka’s article called “Hitler is a Gentleman.” His spokesman Ovcacek searched for the article for a long time, but in vain. Czech historians said Peroutka wrote no such text.

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