Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Sound engineer's protest at Zeman's rally no offence

14 March 2018

Lipnik nad Becvou, North Moravia, March 13 (CTK) - Sound engineer Jaroslav Hensl, who was playing a protest song at a public rally in Lipnik during President Milos Zeman's visit last November, did not commit a misdemeanour, a commission has decided and shelved the case, the town mayor told CTK on Tuesday.

The commission dealing with minor offences sent the case to the police administrative body as a transgression of assembly freedom, Lipnik nad Becvou Mayor Miloslav Prikryl and Town Hall section head Roman Chlapek said.

Hensl originally faced a fine of 15,000 crowns.

He switched on the Prayer for Marta legendary song, which was a symbol of the national resistance after the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, during the rally Zeman held in Lipnik nad Becvou within his three-day tour of the Olomouc Region last November.

Hensl was detained, he spent 2.5 hours at a police station.

Zeman then publicly thanked the police for the intervention.

The incident stirred up emotions and many politicians condemned it as reminding of the practices pursued by the communist regime.

Hensl told CTK on Tuesday that he welcomed the decision of the commission of which he had been informed.

He said the whole event in the square was meaningful, which the strong wave of support he received from all over the country proved. The playing of the cult song also inspired people in other localities during protests, he added.

"I am glad that a number of people have emerged all over the country who express the view that a man who does not adapt presidency to his will, but who behaves as a statesman should head the state," Hensl said.

The police headquarters looked into the police intervention in Lipnik and concluded that it was in compliance with law.

On the contrary, Ombudsman Anna Sabatova, to whom the protest organisers turned, is of the view that the police broke the rules in their action against the protesters at the public rally. There was no reason to detain Hensl, the action against him was excessive and the police failed to inform him about the reasons for his arrest, Sabatova said.

A court will also deal with the case as Hensl, 51, has filed a legal complaint against the police steps and demands their investigation. Another five organisers of anti-Zeman protests have turned to the court as well.

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