Strasbourg Court rules in favour of poet Feldek

The European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg on July 12 published its decision on a decade-old case in which Ľubomír Feldek, a Slovak poet, in 1994 was found guilty of libel and "injuring Slovak state interests" by the Slovak Supreme Court. The plaintiff in the case was Dušan Slobodník, a former Culture Minister and still a member of parliament for the HZDS party of Vladimír Mečiar.

Feldek had in the early 1990s publicly claimed that Slobodník had a facist past - his membership in the World War II Nazistic youth league, Slovakia's Hlinka Mladosť. He also wrote a poem in 1992 titled Dobrú noc, moja milá ('Good Night, My Dear'), in which appeared the line esesák sa objal s eštebákom ('an SS man hugged an ŠtB [communist secret service] man'), an apparent reference to Slobodník.

The Strasbourg Court decided Feldek's fundamental right to free expression had been violated, and ordered Slovakia to pay the poet 565,000 Slovak crowns ($11,280) in damages and court costs.

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