PRAGUE (JTA) — Two far-right Czech politicians have been charged with incitement to hatred and defamation over a note they wrote supporting a 19th-century blood libel.
The police launched criminal proceedings against Adam Bartos and Ladislav Zemanek on Dec. 20, and the charges were confirmed to JTA on Tuesday.
Bartos, chairman of National Democracy, and Zemanek, a party official, left the signed note last Easter at a memorial to Anezka Hruzova, a 19-year-old woman who was murdered in 1899. Bartos does not deny leaving the note.
In a case that became one of Europe’s most notorious blood libel trials, Leopold Hilsner was sentenced to death for killing Hruzova, which attorneys suggested was part of a Jewish ritual. Hilsner was pardoned after 18 years in prison but never acquitted.
The note, signed by Bartos and Zemanek on behalf of the National Democracy party, said the murder “united the Czech nation and showed the urgent need to solve the Jewish question. The Jewish question has not been satisfactorily dealt with to this day.”
Police from the southeastern Czech town of Jihlava said Bartos and Zemanek left the note at the Hruzova memorial in Polna, a nearby town. They later posted a photograph of the note on social media.
Dana Cirtkova, a spokeswoman for the Jihlava police, on Tuesday detailed the charges to JTA but said the men could not be identified until official notices were delivered to them. Bartos confirmed that he and his party colleague had been charged with the crimes.
“I think the accusations are unsubstantiated, and I stand by the remarks,” Bartos told JTA in an email.
He and Zemanek could be sentenced to up to three years in prison if convicted.