Almost a year to the day since then PM Robert Fico filed a lawsuit against publisher of daily SME, Petit Press, over a caricature depicting his lookalike being told by a doctor that his back pain was non-existent as he was spineless, the Bratislava IV District Court has rejected his claim.
Fico demanded EUR 33,000 in damages because of the caricature of ‘Shooty’ (Martin Šútovec), which was published on 9 July 2009. At that time the former PM had cancelled several engagements due to a spine problem.
Judge Silvia Walterova ruled that the comment by the caricaturist concerned the prime minister as a public official and not Fico as a private individual. She justified her ruling by saying public figures had to be prepared to withstand a greater level of criticism than ordinary citizens.
The legal representative of the publisher, Tomáš Kamenec, referred to the ruling as a “victory for common sense”. Fico’s lawyer, on the other hand, refused to comment on the verdict, but she did note that an appeal would be lodged.