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Head of Zeman’s security team asks for transfer to other squad

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Prague, Sept 24 (CTK) – Petr Dongres, head of the squad for the Czech president’s protection, has asked for being transferred to another post since he does not feel President Milos Zeman’s trust after the incident with red boxer shorts flying above Prague Castle, Dongres told reporters Thursday.

However, he dismissed his responsibility for the act of the Ztohoven artistic group that hung up giant red boxer shorts on the roof of Prague Castle, the seat of the president, instead of the presidential flag on Saturday.

Zeman, who demanded Dongres’s dismissal, said the commander of the military Castle Guard, was also responsible for the incident and should be dismissed.

The Castle Guard, comprised of 572 professional soldiers and commanded by Petr Studeny, is responsible for the outdoor areas of the complex, while the entries to the buildings are watched by the police squad for the protection of the president.

Responsibility of the police security squad and the military Castle Guard is indivisible, Zeman said at a press conference in Kunin, north Moravia, at the end of his visit to the Moravia Silesia Region.

“Apart from Mr Dongres, the commander of the Castle Guard also bears responsibility,” Zeman said adding that further resignations would follow.

Studeny can be fired by the head of the Presidential Military Office, Rostislav Pilc, Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said.

Some sources from Prague Castle say the post of Jan Fulik, head of the president’s security section, is also threatened.

“The people who are responsible for the failure of the Prague Castle protection can freely choose whether they will resign themselves or will be dismissed,” Zeman said.

Police President Tomas Tuhy said the police had reacted to the Saturday incident correctly, according to the preliminary results of the investigation. A detailed check of the police steps continues, he added.

A possible disciplinary punishment may follow only on the basis of an individual assessment of the police security guards’ behaviour.

“No decision has been made on a possible dismissal or transfer to another post,” Tuhy said.

However, he added, Dongres feels he has lost the president’s trust, and this is why he has accepted his request for being transferred to another police structure.

“No protection squad chief can execute his function without the protected person’s trust, and this is why I want to step down,” Dongres said.

Dongres will stay in the post until September 30. Then the president’s protection squad will be temporarily headed by Vladimir Mach. A competition for a new head will follow.

Dongres became the chief of the president’s protection squad in the autumn of 2012. He replaced Jiri Sklenka who resigned after an airsoft gun attack on Zeman’s predecessor, Vaclav Klaus, in Chrastava, north Bohemia.

Tuhy said the squad had been short of staff for long and that 25 new police officers should join it.

Both Prague Castle and the police have long been negotiating about new measures to improve the security of the site.

The installation of door frame metal detectors, for instance, is being considered at Prague Castle. However, heritage protectors have criticised the plan, saying it would damage the appearance of the historical sight and considerably complicate access to it.

The Ztohoven group, known for its provocative interferences in public affairs, released a video-recording of their Saturday “performance” at Prague Castle on Facebook saying “the proper flag of a man who is not ashamed of anything finally flies above Prague Castle.”

The Presidential Office said the group had thereby defamed state symbols.

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