Burning the EU flag not a crime

The verdict followed the testimony of three witnesses in the incident of burning an EU flag.

Marián Mišún (l)Marián Mišún (l)(Source: TASR)

The district court in Bratislava acquitted extremist Marián Mišún of charges in the case of burning a flag of the European Union in front of the Bratislava Castle back in 2012, claiming he did not commit a crime.

The deed can be qualified only as an offence, a single judge ruled. However, in this case the two-year limitation period (time within which legal proceedings may be initiated) has already passed, the SITA newswire reported.

The verdict is not valid yet, as the prosecutor can still appeal it.

Before issuing the verdict, the court invited three witnesses whose testimony was demanded by the defendant. One of them was Oskar Dobrovodský, organiser of the 2012 march titled “Together for a decent and safe life in Slovakia” at which the flag was burnt. The witnesses confirmed Magát’s claim that they had stated their intention to burn the flag several times, and police had not interfered.

They became involved only after the flag was set on fire, according to them.

Magát and the witnesses said such a form of protest is common abroad and that it is an expression free speech, as reported by SITA.

Read also:Case of EU flag burning returns to courts

In the original verdict issued by the Bratislava I District Court, Mišún and Štefan Potocký were fined €300 and €500, respectively. They were also banned from staying in the capital for two years. The Bratislava Regional Court, to which they appealed, changed the ruling only slightly in June 2014, abolishing the two-year punishment for Mišún.

The Supreme Court, however, accepted Mišún’s appeal and returned the case to the lower-instance courts, saying the proceeding was one-sided. The courts used only the evidence provided by the criminal authorities, like police hearings and a recording of the incident made by the police officers. They did not want to hear from participants of the incident, SITA reported.

The court also claimed that the deed did not meet the requirements of the crime of disorderly conduct.

Mišún currently works as an assistant to MP Martin Beluský of the far-right People’s Party – Our Slovakia (ĽSNS), while Potocký is fighting in Ukraine, SITA reported.

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