Prague, Dec 12 (CTK) – The Czech police had no right to order two men to remove the flags of Tibet and Taiwan from their windows in a building next to the Hilton Hotel when Chinese President Xi Jinping was staying there during his visit to Prague in 2016, the Prague Municipal Court decided today.
The verdict has taken effect.
A previous police check of the controversial action concluded that the police intervention was legitimate. The court rejected this view today.
The court said the police officers had the right to ask the two men to present their identity cards, but they violated law when they ordered the men to remove the flags from the windows and did not let them make a video recording of the intervention.
The two men, Ladislav Pelcl and Martin Malos, worked in the Diamond Point building next to the Hotel Hilton in Prague-Karlin. To show their protest against violation of human rights by China, they put in their windows two big sheets of paper with the flags of Tibet and Taiwan printed on them.
Two police officers arrived immediately afterwards and said the rapid reaction unit considered the flags in the windows a potential risk because movements behind the windows could not be monitored.
The defence lawyer of Pelcl and Malik argued that the police had not minded that in other windows blinds had been put down. An expert report ordered by the court concluded that the police could have monitored the situation inside, behind the windows covered with the flags, with the equipment they had, namely thermal imaging cameras.
Court’s panel head Ladislav Hejtmanek said the removal of the flags was unlawful because it was not necessary. He said the police had the right to search the room. However, Pelcl and Malik had not complained about this search.
Pelcl and Malik said the police exerted pressure on them, were unable to explain their demand and did not allow any discussion. Hinting at the communist era, Pelcl said previously the experience was “a return to the atmosphere of fear when the police are not with us but against us.” He said the police pressed on people to remove flags in other places in the area, too.
“The police should not have been subject to political pressure, which is exactly what seemed to happen in this case. The order to remove Tibetan flags came from the Prague Castle,” Pelcl said today, referring to the presidential seat.
Czech President Milos Zeman is known for his support of closer ties with China.
Pelcl welcomed the latest verdict.
The Czech police faced criticism over their actions against pro-Tibet activists and other people during the three-day visit of Xi last year. According to their own internal checks, the police made a mistake only when they intervened in the building of the film faculty, demanding the removal of Tibetan flags.