PRAGUE (Dec. 2)
Less than a week after a Moscow judge ruled that the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is a forgery and its publication an anti-Semitic act, a Prague court has acquitted a man who published a Czech translation of the work, saying no proof was presented that the man sought to promote anti-Semitism.
Miroslav Gabriel, a geologist by profession and the father-in-law of a Palestinian Arab, had been charged more than a year ago for disseminating hate literature, a crime punishable by a sentence of eight to 10 years in prison.
Gabriel pleaded not guilty to the charge, claiming he had published the pamphlet for commercial reasons only and had not intended to harm or insult anybody.
Explaining its verdict, the court said Monday that it had not found any proof of the defendant’s direct or indirect intention to commit the offense with which he was charged.
The judge who rendered the acquittal had also terminated similar proceedings against Gabriel last December without hearing the case at all.
The judge agreed to the latest hearing only after being ordered to do so by the Superior City Court of Prague.
The notorious “Protocols,” which charge the Jewish people with a conspiracy to undermine Christian civilization, was written at the turn of the century by czarist secret police agents, who in turn plagiarized most of the text from an anti-Semitic tract published in France.
The Moscow court’s ruling against publishing the work was the first in the country where the tract originated.
In an editorial appearing Wednesday in the Prague daily Lidove Noviny, columnist Jiri Hanak compared the “Protocols” to the rails that led to the Auschwitz gas chambers.
Hanak pointed out that the 5,000 copies of the tract published by Gabriel exceeded the total number of Jews currently living in the Czech Republic.
“This confirms the known fact that anti-Semitism does not need Jews, only hatred and evil,” Hanak wrote.
The state prosecutor, who brought the original charges against Gabriel, has already announced that he will appeal the verdict.
In the meantime, the confiscated copies of the tract Gabriel published will remain in the hands of the Czech police.