Reflex weekly does not have to apologize to SPD chairman Tomio Okamura for calling him Pitomie in the magazine and on the website. Okamura, according to the Supreme Court, must show a higher degree of tolerance, changed the decision of the Court of Appeal and confirmed the verdict of the first instance.
“If at the relevant time the plaintiff’s publicly presented opinions and attitudes were populist, offering cheap and pleasant solutions with a tendency to express themselves about everything, pandering to the public, contradicting each other, in relation to the issue of minorities and social issues characterized by a tendency towards xenophobia and nationalism and if he also presented himself as a teller of (awkward and vulgar) jokes in the election campaign, one can agree with the court’s conclusion that the criticism has a real basis. In other words, the conclusion of the lower courts that the cheaply populist views and behavior of the prosecutor at the decisive time will bear the assessment even as stupid, is built on a real basis,” wrote the Supreme Court towards the head of the opposition movement.
According to him, it can be summarized that the designation Pitomio has the nature of a value judgment in the form of a verbal caricature, which is based at least on a minimal factual basis.
“The verbal caricature of a name is not generally excluded and is characterized (just like, for example, a pictorial or photographic caricature) by irony, exaggeration, possibly sharpness or one-sidedness, and it must therefore be viewed more leniently,” stated NS.
He added that the plaintiff (Okamura) described himself as a controversial politician, used strong and derogatory terms and called for impropriety. Considering this, according to NS, he must show a higher degree of tolerance.
Compensation not awarded
The Prague Municipal Court of First Instance ruled on the matter in June 2020. According to the decision, the publisher of Reflex Czech News Center did not have to apologize to Okamura. According to the verdict, it was also not necessary to order the magazine to never use the term Pitomio again. The court previously stated that the ban was not needed, for example, because Reflex had not labeled the chairman of the SPD movement in this way for several years.
However, after an appeal, the High Court in Prague decided in May 2021 that Reflex must apologize to the chairman of the SPD. He also decided that the magazine may no longer use the label. According to the appeals panel, the term Pitomio was a vulgar corruption of the politician’s name, which may interfere with his personality rights. The appeals court, like the court of first instance, rejected the politician’s request for compensation of 300,000 crowns. The representatives of the publishing house appealed against the verdict.
The case has already gone through the entire justice system once, all the way to the Constitutional Court, which defended Okamura. He stated at the time that freedom of speech should not lead to any person, including public figures, being purposefully ridiculed in the eyes of the public.
In the original verdict, the judiciary generally admitted the possibility of using a corruption of Okamura’s name as part of justified criticism. After the intervention of the Constitutional Court, the courts had to decide again.
Reflex first used the term Pitomio in 2012. In October of the same year, businessman Okamura became an MP for the Dawn of Direct Democracy. He is now a member of parliament and chairman of the Freedom and Direct Democracy movement. The term Pitomio then appeared in some other media from time to time as well