Magistrate recuses himself from Catzavelos racism trial

Adam Catzavelos is accused of hate speech after a video rant.
Adam Catzavelos is accused of hate speech after a video rant.
Image: Alon Skuy

A magistrate who was meant to preside over Adam Catzavelos's hate speech case in the Equality Court recused himself yesterday, citing a conflict of interest.

Magistrate Naren Sewnarain once worked with Catzavelos's lawyer, Lawley Shein.

The case was postponed until August 29 as a result.

South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) Gauteng manager Buang Jones said the organisation had applied for Sewnarain to recuse himself.

"We applied for the recusal of the magistrate, and he agreed to step aside after we raised his previous working relationship with Mr Catzavelos's lawyer," he said.

Catzavelos faces charges of hate speech and discrimination.

The SAHRC filed a complaint in the Equality Court against Catzavelos after his racist video rant last year, recorded on a beach in Greece, was leaked via WhatsApp.

The commission wants Catzavelos to apologise for his remarks and pay at least R200,000 to a charity organisation.

Catzavelos is also facing a charge of crimen injuria in Greece and South Africa.

Greek authorities confirmed previously that they were charging Catzavelos for having, via the internet, "incited, provoked, excited or encouraged acts or actions which may cause discrimination, hatred or violence".

He has been charged abroad as his offensive views were posted on YouTube, which was accessible on Greek territory. The k-word is also regarded as derogatory in Greece.

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