Ombudswoman Supports High Magistrates’ Court Ruling on Ustasha Slogan

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, August 15, 2019 – After the High Magistrates’ Court confirmed that a local singer, by chanting the salute ‘For the homeland ready’ while performing a song by pop singer Marko Perković Thompson, had committed a misdemeanour, Public Ombudswoman Lora Vidović said that this was the first time a higher court had stated its position on Thompson’s song “Bojna Čavoglave”.

The High Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday published its ruling upholding a decision by a lower court that Mario Roso, a singer from Makarska, had committed a misdemeanour at a celebration of Homeland Thanksgiving Day in 2015 by chanting the salute “For the homeland ready” while performing the song authored by Thompson.

The High Magistrates’ Court thus upheld the lower court’s opinion that by chanting “For the homeland” and “For the homeland ready” as part of the song “Bojna Čavoglave”, Roso had breached the law on offences against public order.

The High Magistrates’ Court published its ruling two months after handing it down and ten days after Thompson performed the song with the salute at a concert in Split.

This is not the first ruling of the High Magistrates’ Court regarding the salute “For the homeland ready” but is the first ruling of a higher court on the chanting of the contentious salute as part of the song “Bojna Čavoglave”, Hina was told by sources at the Office of the Public Ombudswoman.

The High Magistrates’ Court earlier ruled on four occasions on the contentious salute, each time deciding on earlier rulings by different lower courts.

In each of those cases, the High Magistrates’ Court upheld the sentencing verdicts of the lower courts for the use of the salute in situations other than the latest one, stating explicitly in each ruling that the salute is unlawful.

“The High Magistrates’ Court stated clearly in its rulings that the “For the homeland ready” salute symbolises hatred towards people of a different race, religion and ethnicity and is a manifestation of a racist ideology and belittles victims of crimes against humanity, as confirmed by the Constitutional Court, but many have seemed to disregard the two courts’ positions and messages or still do not hear them clearly,” the Office of the Public Ombudswoman said.

Under the practice of the Constitutional Court and the High Magistrates’ Court, any chanting of the salute is contrary to the law, the Office of the Public Ombudswoman said, noting that police had to do their job and file misdemeanour charges against anyone chanting the salute, regardless of the occasion, just as courts had to do their part of the job.

So far, police have quoted court practice in cases when they failed to press charges against Thompson for chanting the salute as part of his song “Bojna Čavoglave”.

In August 2018, the Sisak-Moslavina County police failed to press charges against Thompson after a concert in the town of Glina, saying that “according to the court practice so far, (the chanting of the salute) did not constitute incitement to hate.”

Police in Split-Dalmatia County, too, failed to press charges against the singer after his recent concert in Split.

Commenting on the High Magistrates’ Court ruling, deputy chief police director Josip Ćelić said on Wednesday that police had to enforce laws and that it was not their duty to interpret them. “In line with uniform court practice, the police will enforce laws,” he said.

Asked if police would press charges against Thompson if he continued using the salute at his concerts, Ćelić said that he did not have a copy of the High Magistrates’ Court ruling, adding that “if such a decision is made, we will certainly act in line with the law.”

Asked if that meant that police would file misdemeanour charges, Ćelić said: “Absolutely”.

Attorneys Anto Nobilo and Alan Sorić commented on the relevance of the High Magistrates’ Court ruling, stressing that the salute in question was a fascist, Ustasha salute.

Nobilo welcomed the ruling, saying that the highest misdemeanour court had finally taken the right position, while Sorić said that the decision was wrong as it would restrict freedom of speech.

“I really hope it will help all lower courts to rule in the same way, but primarily that it will motivate police to simply start working in line with the law,” said Nobilo, who believes that the latest ruling is actually binding on all lower courts.

Sorić believes that aligning decisions of lower courts with those of higher courts is desirable but notes that that is not always the case because a ruling of a high court is not binding on other courts.

Sorić also believes that the High Magistrates’ Court’s ruling is wrong because one should take into account the context in which “For the homeland ready” is chanted.

Completely outlawing a slogan leads inevitably to restriction of the freedom of speech, says Sorić, adding that protecting the freedom of speech is more important than outlawing a slogan, regardless of how much shameful and scandalous it might be.

In a comment on the High Magistrates’ Court ruling, Thompson’s lawyer Davorin Karačić said that the court was known for making different decisions on the same type of cases. He said that the doctrine of precedent did not exist in Croatia and that it was possible that one and the same case could have a different outcome before a different panel of judges of the High Magistrates’ Court.

More news about Ustasha revisionism can be found in the Politics section.


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