Andrej Babiš in Brno in 2018 via Martin Strachoň / Wikimedia

Czech PM Andrej Babiš must apologize to protester for slander, rules Prague court

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš must apologise for having said that the demonstrators against the government last year were paid, the Prague-West district court ruled today.

Prague, Sept 6 (CTK) – Prime Minister Andrej Babiš must apologise for having said that the demonstrators against the government last year were paid, the Prague-West district court ruled today.

The complaint was filed by one of the demonstrators, Jana Filipova, who argued that with his statements, Babiš had encroached upon her rights.

The verdict can be still appealed. Babiš said he would do so.

Babiš should send an apology to Filipova within a month after the verdict takes effect.

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Babiš’s lawyer said the statements in question could not encroach upon her rights and in general, they were not derogatory.

However, the court ruled that Filipova had been really harmed.

“The court arrived at the conclusion that as an individual she has the right to demand protection against these statements,” the judge said.

“She has no duty to tolerate false criticism which is, rather, a defamation of her person,” she added.

On July 11, 2018, Filipova, from Domazlice, west Bohemia, attended a rally in Prague when the Chamber of Deputies was deciding on confidence in Babiš’ minority government.

Babiš then said the protesters were “the same people all the time” and that he could not imagine anyone protesting for 16 hours. “So there must be some motivation,” he added.

Babiš then spoke about paid demonstrations in connection with a protest rally outside Czech Radio on August 21, 2018.

At the end of last August, he told the commercial television station Barrandov that the people who booed him were paid and that they were hired political opponents.

“I will appeal the verdict. In the affair, I only presented a certain view of mine which reacted to the statements by deputy (Pavel) Ruzicka (ANO) that were publicly debated,” Babiš said.

After the July protest, Ruzicka said he had heard several people speaking about where they were supposed to go for the money.

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The demonstrators dismissed this. They said they had spoken about the money for a possible fine for a youth who was checked by the police at the rally.

The judge ruled that Babiš had not put up any effort to verify the information to which he referred, making false statements Filipova had to sustain.

Filipova told the court that after Babiš’ public statement she had started receiving the messages asking “how much money she was getting” for the demonstrations, first from her friends and then from unknown people. Some of the messages were vulgar, she added.

“I think that due to his senior post, a prime minister must not release any gossip to the public space,” Filipova told the court on Wednesday, adding that due to Babiš, the lie took roots in the public space and was difficult to refute.

pvr/dr/hol

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