- Hans Weber
- December 4, 2023
Czech Supreme Court Annuls 1966 Verdicts, Acquits Protesters Known as “Máničky”
In a historic decision, the Czech Supreme Court has annulled the verdicts in the case of 14 men who attended a protest in Prague in September 1966, known as the “máničky” protest. The court has acquitted them of charges brought by Communist prosecutors, marking a significant moment in the country’s legal history and a victory for justice and human rights.
The court’s ruling came in response to a complaint for the violation of the law filed by Justice Minister Pavel Blazek (ODS). In its judgment, the Supreme Court stated, “The contested decisions must be regarded as incorrect and unlawful because firstly, they do not respect the fundamental principles of a democratic society (guaranteeing, among other things, the individual’s right to freedom of expression and assembly) and secondly, they were made in violation of the then-valid criminal law.”
The specific complaints that the Supreme Court dealt with were filed on behalf of two of the men: Martin Maryska and Milos Turek. However, the ruling has a broader impact, as it affects the other 12 men who were also wrongly convicted, with eight of them no longer alive. This verdict paves the way for their rehabilitation and potentially, material compensation.
Defense lawyer Lubomir Muller, who represented Maryska and Turek, emphasized that it is unacceptable and illegal for the police to chase young men through the streets and violently cut their hair, highlighting the brutality they endured during the 1966 protest.
The 1966 demonstration was a response to the Communist police action known as the “Longhairs,” which involved forcibly cutting the hair of young, long-haired men. About 130 people participated in the September 1966 protest, demanding an end to these oppressive actions. The protesters shouted slogans like “Down with the Barbers” and “Give us Back Our Hair.” However, the Communist police responded with violence, dispersing the rally and leading to the subsequent trial and wrongful convictions of 14 participants, with seven of them sent to prison for various durations.
While the Supreme Court’s decision is a step towards justice for the “máničky” protesters, it also raises the possibility of compensation for those who were wrongly detained or placed in custody but not convicted. This landmark ruling underscores the importance of upholding democratic values and protecting individuals’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly, even in the face of historical injustices.
Article by Prague Forum