By Tenzin Monlam
Pro-Tibetan activists protest Chinese President Xi Jinping's arrival in Czech Republic/file
DHARAMSHALA, December 14: Prague Municipal Court has found the Czech Police guilty of unlawful removal of Tibetan and Taiwanese National flags displayed by two Czech nationals at their windows facing the Hilton Hotel, where Chinese President Xi Jinping stayed during his 2016 visit.
“The removal of the flags was unlawful because it was not necessary. The police had the right to search the room,” Court's Panel Head Ladislav Hejtmanek said in the verdict on December 12.
The court added, “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.”
Ladislav Pelcl and Martin Malos, who works at the Diamond Point building next to the hotel, displayed two big sheets of papers with printed national flags of Tibet and Taiwan to show their protest against the human rights violations by China. Two police officers were sent to remove the flags as soon as the rapid reaction unit flagged it as ‘risk’.
The verdict is in effect despite the police claiming their action of intervention ‘legitimate’. They claim that the flags on the windows were potential risk since movements behind the windows could not be monitored.
The defence lawyer of Pelcl and Malik argued that the police had not minded those who had put blinds on their windows. The lawyer also quoted an expert report order by the court, which stated that police could have monitored the situation of the room behind the windows covered with the flags using thermal imaging cameras.
Expressing his displeasure over the police’s conduct in pressuring them to remove the flags without any discussion, Pelcl said, “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 (the presidential seat).”
Similarly, a Prague court had imposed a fine of 15,000 Crowns or two months in jail on a Chinese man named Dong Jiangqing, who snatched a Tibetan national flag from a protester during President Xi’s visit.