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Slovak parliament expels MP for hate speech

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Bratislava (AFP)

Slovakia's parliament said on Tuesday it had expelled a far-right lawmaker found guilty of hate speech by the Supreme Court, in the first case of its kind in the EU country.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court's verdict that Milan Mazurek, 25, was guilty of hate speech in public comments made three years ago in which he compared ethnic Roma to animals and accused them of bearing children to make money from begging and petty crime.

Around a fifth of Slovakia's estimated 400,000 Roma live in poverty in some 600 slums mostly in the south and east of the economically successful eurozone country of 5.4 million people.

Under article 81 of Slovakia's constitution, the criminal conviction means that Mazurek automatically loses his seat in parliament.

"Following today's decision of the Supreme Court, Milan Mazurek is losing his seat," parliament said on its official Facebook page.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Alexandra Vazanova told AFP on Tuesday that Mazurek was fined 10,000 euros ($11,000).

The court would impose a "six-month prison sentence" should he decline to pay the fine, she added.

A member of the anti-migrant and anti-Roma LSNS party, Mazurek is also banned from running for office in March 2020 parliamentary elections.

Mazurek's party, known as Kotleba-People's Party Our Slovakia, will retain his seat, one of 13 it currently controls in the 150-member parliament.

In April, the Supreme Court ruled against banning the LSNS. Slovakia's chief prosecutor Jaromir Ciznar had proposed the ban arguing the LSNS was trying to subvert democracy.

The party entered parliament for the first time in the 2016 general election on an anti-migrant platform.

Party chief Marian Kotleba, 42, is notorious for having led street marches with members dressed in black neo-Nazi uniforms before he entered parliament.

He unsuccessfully ran for president in March 2019, winning 10.4 percent of the vote.

The LSNS is currently polling at 11.4 percent support and is expected to win more seats in the upcoming general election.

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