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Czech lawyer punished for motion citing Jewishness of witness

(JTA) — The Czech Bar Association reportedly has banned a lawyer temporarily who cited the Jewishness of a witness in a motion to disqualify his testimony.

Petr Koci said his motion, which was rejected, was the wish of his client, a far-right activist, according to a report on the case in the Prague Post.

Iva Chaloupkova, the bar’s spokesperson, told journalists of Koci’s one-year removal from the association on Oct. 10, according to the paper, which added the disbarment is pending Koci’s appeal.

"According to the association’s disciplinary panel, Koci claimed that the expert was biased on the grounds of his ethnic origin, which is quite unacceptable," Chaloupkova is quoted as saying. The association rejected Koci’s argument that he had to respect his client’s instruction.

"A lawyer must obey legal regulations in the first place and only within them a client’s instructions," Chaloupkova said.

Koci was representing Lucie Slegrova, a member of the far-right Workers’ Party of Social Justice, or DSSS, at her trial in Most, north Bohemia. Koci said the court expert, Michal Mazel, could not assess his client objectively because she was Jewish.

Slegrova was prosecuted over public statements she made at a DSSS rally in 2010. Mazel concluded that she promoted Nazism and anti-Semitism in her speech.

Koci and Slegrova inferred Mazel’s origin from his surname, which they claimed derives from the Hebrew name Moshe.

"As a person of Jewish origin, the expert certainly perceives very sensitively the question of the Shoah (Holocaust) and the German National Socialism," Koci wrote in his objection.

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