Two diametrically differing opinions on a cartoon published in the Sme daily were presented at a hearing on May 4 at the Bratislava 4 District Court, which dealt with Prime Minister Robert Fico’s lawsuit against the Petit Press publishing house for a cartoon that the prime minister says made fun of his serious health condition and ridiculed him.
In this libel lawsuit, Fico is suing Petit Press over a cartoon by Martin “Shooty” Šútovec. The cartoon features a man who resembles like Fico with his physician. The physician is checking his x-ray, which shows he has no spine. The physician tells the man that his cervical spine problems must only be “phantom pain”. The daily published the cartoon in July, when Prime Minister Fico had allegedly been suffering from a cervical spine problem and had to cancel several appointments.
Fico is demanding an apology and €33,000 in compensation from Petit Press. According to the lawyer representing Robert Fico, Zuzana Kupcová, the author of the cartoon ridiculed the health condition of the prime minister. Her opinion differs from that of the lawyer of Petit Press, Tomáš Kamenec, who said that the author expressed his opinion on Fico as a man without a backbone – an inconsistent politician who does not fulfil his promises.
Kamenec argued that the basis for criticism of Fico was not his pain and suffering but his performance in public life. Kamenec proposed that the court hear the author of the cartoon while Fico proposed to hear testimony from his doctor. The judge adjourned the hearing until June 23.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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5. May 2010 at 14:00