first_imgA newspaper based in Victoria that published an article which included descriptions of Greece as “a thieving nation” and Greeks as “deranged bastardly monsters” and “freaks of nature”, appeared before a hearing of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) last week.The case, brought against the Australian Macedonian Weekly (AMW) by the Australian Macedonian Advisory Council (AMAC), comes more than two years after the article in question was published on 19 May 2009 with the headline, ‘Who in this celestial world gave the Greeks the right to take away the Macedonian language?’The article, which used a stream of insulting language when referring to Greek people and the Greek state, was deemed by AMAC after taking legal advice, as contravening the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic). The AMAC first lodged a complaint with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in 2010, but without the power to determine the dispute, the Commission referred the case to VCAT.The hearing, which began last Wednesday, was led by senior tribunal member Noreen Megay. Barrister Tom Hurley, counsel for AMAC, attested in his opening submission, that the article contravened Section 7 of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. Section 7 of the Act states that, “a person must not, on the ground of the race of another person or class of persons, engage in conduct that incites hatred against, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of, that other person or class of persons”.The newspaper’s editor and owner – Ljubco Stankovski, and the treasurer of AMAC – Ian Pelekanakis, both took the witness stand for cross-examination. Jeremy Rapke QC, the former Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions was representing the newspaper.The VCAT hearing is one of the few legal challenges made recently in Australia by a Greek affiliated organisation on the Macedonian issue, and the nature of its debate within Australian media. Should the tribunal find that the newspaper acted unlawfully, such a decision would be one of the first legal contests won by a Greek Australian complainant in reference to racial vilification under Australian law.The hearing concluded on 3 August. A judgement will be made by VCAT in the next few weeks. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img