Former MP Dominik Feri sentenced to 3 years in jail for multiple rape
A Prague district court has ruled in the closely-watched trial of former MP Dominik Feri, 26, who stood accused of two charges of rape and one attempted rape. The one-time TOP 09 party politician has been found guilty and sentenced to 3 years in jail.
In 2018 the youngest Czech deputy in the Czech lower house, Dominik Feri from TOP 09, appeared on Politico’s list of 28 people who are shaping, shaking and stirring Europe. The people listed are divided into three categories: doers, dreamers and disruptors. Dominik Feri appeared eighth on the list of dreamers.
Three years later the media painted a very different picture based on accusations of sexual assault and improper conduct by several women. Denik N published the testimonies of several women, who claimed that Feri had forced them to have sex against their will. Others confided that he had asked them for nude photos. It emerged that one of the victims was just 17 and she testified that she had found herself powerless to oppose Feri after he put something in her drink.
As the accusations made headlines Feri resigned on his mandate and left the party.
However, he rejected claims that he had committed rape, although conceded that his behaviour may have been “inappropriate” at times.
The trial of the former MP started in February of this year and filled front pages. Feri consistently denied the rape charges saying the sex had been consensual.
In her final statement, the state prosecutor proposed a three-year sentence while the victims’ lawyer Adéla Hořejší argued that it would be appropriate to impose a harsher punishment, so as to give the defendant a strong message that his behaviour is unacceptable. She pointed to the psychological trauma Feri's victims had endured and the impact of the assault and hearings on their private lives. She also mentioned that Feri had tried to dissuade two of the women from testifying. According to Hořejší, Feri does not think of women as human beings, but uses them as objects for his sexual needs. She described his behavior as "predatory."
Meanwhile, Feri’s defense attorney sought to cast doubt on the women’s testimonies, suggesting they might have had multiple motives to falsely accuse the former politician. She pointed to inconsistencies in the victims’ accounts and failure to remember certain details relating to the alleged assaults. She said that Feri himself was the only victim in the case since it had had a devastating impact on his career and private life and argued that in view of the lack of direct evidence Feri should be acquitted of the charges against him.
However court experts found the testimonies of the victims’ accounts credible. Moreover throughout the trial Feri demonstrated a highly contemptuous attitude to the victims, laughing out aloud at their testimonies and showing no sign of remorse.
The judge sent him to three years in prison, and meted out fines as compensation to the victims. The verdict is not legally binding and Dominik Feri appealed on the spot.
Johanna Nejedlová co-founder of Konsent, an NGO which focuses on preventing sexual violence, comments on Dominik Feri rape verdict.