The court will not release the verdict in Feri’s case to the public to protect the victims

The court will not release the verdict in Feri’s case to the public to protect the victims
The court will not release the verdict in Feri’s case to the public to protect the victims
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Prague – The District Court for Prague 3 will not provide the public with an anonymized written justification of the judgment in the case of former MP Dominik Feri, who was extrajudicially sentenced to three years in prison last November for two counts of rape and attempted rape. He stated this in his reply, in which he rejected CTK’s request to provide a verdict under the Freedom of Information Act. The court justified the rejection of the request by protecting the victims of crimes and also by the fact that the decision is not final and the case will still be decided by the Municipal Court in Prague.

“Already from the essence of the matter, there is no doubt that the requested decision is interwoven with a large amount of intimate details about the victims, about their sex life and the effects of the assessed acts on their psyche. Therefore, when assessing the request, the obliged entity had to consider in particular the protection of the rights and freedoms of (not only) victims of criminal act, but on the other hand, in relation to the defendant, to respect the principle of the presumption of innocence, when the defendant must be regarded as innocent until the final conclusion of the case,” the court said in the decision.

According to him, the protection of the rights and freedoms of particularly vulnerable victims will be ensured by the fact that the court will not provide an anonymized judgment with reasons. “Simply by anonymizing the requested decision, and due to the widespread media coverage of the case, it would not be possible to guarantee complete protection of the rights and freedoms of victims of criminal activity, and other ways to protect the rights and freedoms of victims and the defendant are not available to the obliged entity (…). Any damage that would by providing (disclosing) the required information threaten the victims of criminal activity, i.e. damage to personal rights and the impossibility of leading an undisturbed life, is without a doubt significantly more serious than the harm caused by not providing the required information,” the court justified the rejection of the request.

The circuit court drew attention to the fact that it cannot be ruled out that the Municipal Court in Prague will overturn the judgment on appeal and return the case back to the circuit court for further evidence. “By providing an anonymized version of the requested judgment, in which the statements of individual witnesses are recorded, as well as other established facts on which the court based its decisions so far, it could influence such further evidence, and thus endanger the clarification of facts important for criminal proceedings, in the extreme case, to completely defeat the purpose of criminal proceedings,” explained the court.

In addition, he would have to publish the anonymized decision on the official board, which would thus become publicly accessible. It could, for example, be studied by people whom the court could theoretically summon as witnesses in the future. “Therefore, it would be contrary to the principles of taking evidence in such a situation, for example, if a witness who has not yet been heard had the opportunity to find out in advance the content of the evidence carried out so far, or other established facts, from the published judgment,” said the circuit court.

In addition, if the appeals court, for example, decided Feri’s guilt or innocence differently than the circuit court, the presumption of innocence would be violated by the publication of the conviction, according to the circuit court. At the same time, the court indicated that even in the case of a legally concluded case, it will probably not be possible to issue a judgment.

According to the non-jurisdictional judgment of the circuit court, Feri committed three acts. According to the indictment, the two happened in March and November 2016 in his apartment in Prague 3. According to the verdict, Feri kissed and groped the two girls in question despite their disapproval and then performed various sexual practices with them. One of them was 17 years old at the time. According to the judgment, the third incident happened in 2018, when Feri invited a woman to the Chamber of Deputies for a possible intern position. According to the court, he tried to kiss and grope the woman, but she managed to leave, therefore the prosecution qualifies the case as attempted rape.

Feri has previously repeatedly denied the accusation, denying that he committed any sexual violence. At the trial and in his closing speech, he repeatedly pointed out the alleged contradictions in the women’s statements. He also said that the police and prosecutors are taking an alibi approach to his case. For him, the prosecution meant the destruction of his work life as well as his personal life, he said. After the sentencing, he told reporters that he was disappointed by the verdict and hoped the appeals court would take a different view on the case.

To protect the victims, the trial was largely closed to the public. Behind closed doors, not only injured women testified, but also experts. The verdict was announced publicly, the judge also verbally justified her decision. However, Nova TV broadcast live on its website the entire announcement of the verdict, which also contained the personal data of the victims. The television defended itself by saying, among other things, that it could not predict what the content of the judgment would be and that personal data did not appear in further news coverage. The Office for the Protection of Personal Data started administrative proceedings with the television regarding the broadcast of the judgment, its spokesman Milan Řepka told ČTK last week that it has not yet been concluded.

CR Court Chamber of Feri Rape

Tags: court release verdict Feris case public protect victims

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