The owner of daily Novy Cas, publishing house Ringier Axel Springer Slovakia, has cause for celebration after winning its appeal case against Slovakia at the European Court of Human Rights.
he dispute all started when Novy Cas published articles alleging that head of nationalist party SNS Jan Slota was drunk and had acted indecently along with former deputy police commissioner Jozef Petras in a Bratislava restaurant back in 1999.
Slota allegedly pissed from the restaurant terrace and Petras was threatening a public disruption, and he won his case after taking the publisher to court. It was Petras, though, who took the publisher to court over protection of personality.
Petras was eventually awarded compensation of over EUR 33,000 by the District Court in Zilina, but following an appeal by the publisher, this was cut in half to EUR 16 600. The publisher was still not content, though, and so it firstly petitioned with the Constitutional Court, but its appeal was rejected as it had not yet depleted all legal options.
The publisher had lost the previous case because the burden of proof was put on it, and so it could not demonstrate sufficiently that its claims were substantiated. Journalists had gone to the incident, though, following an anonymous phone call, where they interviewed witnesses and even spoke to Petras, but had no proof.
It eventually turned to the European Court of Human Rights, which yesterday acknowledged that the publisher’s right of freedom of expression had been violated, citing that the Slovak Republic had violated Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.