The Mathematics of Crime – censored by Czech Radio?

May 7, 2019

by Lucie Sykorova

In 2017, the public radio Czech Broadcast (CRo) and the Endowment Fund for Independent Journalism (NFNZ) supported the team of Magdalena Sodomkova, Brit Jensen and their colleagues in preparing a documentary named Mathematics of crime (Matematika zločinu), about the problems facing judicial experts (especially one of them – Jiri Straus) and about the situation in the Czech judiciary. The authors described a few cases in the documentary where some people were imprisoned based on assessments from Jiri Straus, which were later found to be wrong by a review.

The work of Jiri Straus had already been questioned in 2013 by the professional organisation of experts in biomechanics – 13 experts signed a complaint against at least six cases where Jiri Straus gave his assessment (later the number rose to 11). However Jiri Straus is still in a close co-operation with CRo as he has been for years. He´s also co-author of CRo´s program The History of Czech Crime.

After the authors finished the documentary in 2018, CRo refused to broadcast it. Even now after Part 1 of the documentary won a prestigious award, the Prix Bohemia Radio, and although CRo originally declared that it would broadcast the winning piece, the management of the CRo didn’t fulfill this promise when the winner turned out to be Mathematics of crime.

According to an official statement made by the director of the Cro Rene Zavoral on the 25th of April during the meeting of the Cro-Council, CRo spent around 240 000 CZK (9,300 euros) on co-producing the documentary. In addition, 250 000 CZK (9,718 euros) in grant money was provided by the Endowment NFNZ. After the authors got a red light from CRo in autumn 2018, stating that the documentary 5a) would not be published as a podcast, they organised a crowdfunding action and created a website where they published the documentary in order to fulfill the conditions of the grant. The documentary can still be heard here.

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