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Czech artist group to be punished for replacing presidential flag

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Prague, April 5 (CTK) – A Prague district court on Wednesday imposed suspended sentences on three members of the Zhotoven guerilla art group who replaced the presidential flag flying over the Prague Castle with giant red boxer shorts in late 2015, in protest against the politics of Czech President Milos Zeman.

Apart from the sentences of six months in prison suspended for 12 months, Filip Crhak, Matej Hajek and David Hons must pay 55,000 for a damaged roof and 8,400 crowns for the presidential flag.

The three members of the group did not arrive in court on Wednesday. The verdict has not taken effect yet and it may be appealed.

The three men previously confirmed that they climbed the roof of the presidential seat, disguised as chimney sweepers, hung out giant red boxer shorts on September 19, 2015. The group later said it cut the presidential flag into pieces and distributed the pieces among people. The group argued with the freedom of speech.

Ztohoven released a video on Facebook saying “the proper flag of a man who is not ashamed of anything finally flies above Prague Castle.” They particularly criticised Zeman for siding with dictatorial regimes, such as China and Russia, and his vulgar language.

The Prague district court dealt with the case for the second time now.

Last year, the court partly acquitted the group and recommended administrative proceedings to deal with a suspected offence. But the appeals court said freedom of speech cannot violate the right to property.

The district court’s judge Sarka Santorova said she had to comply with the decision of the appeals court that ordered her to rule that the suspects are guilty. She said she expressed her legal opinion in her first verdict.

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