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Czech Supreme Court overturns verdict against John Bok

Brno, 4.7.2012 17:04, (ROMEA)

The Czech Supreme Court (Nejvyšší soud - NS) has overturned a verdict handed down against human rights activist John Bok in the case of his alleged assault on a municipal police officer. Bok, who is the head of the Šalamoun organization, was originally sentenced to five months in prison, suspended for one year. Petr Knötig, a spokesperson for the NS, says the Prague 8 District Court must now hear the case again. It is probable that Bok will not be re-sentenced. The incident may be reclassified as a misdemeanor.

The NS ruled that municipal police officers behaved incorrectly during the controversial incident and overreached their powers. Their procedure was characterized by arbitrariness, and Bok was responding to their inadequate behavior.

According to the original verdict, Bok committed violence against a public official. The activist has rejected the charges from the beginning and insists a municipal police officer assaulted him when he stood up for some Romani people whom police were harassing.

The incident occurred in May 2010 on Kaizlovy sady Street in Prague, when a three-member municipal police patrol was addressing a traffic misdemeanor. Bok, who was a passer-by, started shouting at the patrolmen to leave the car and its passengers alone. He then repeatedly refused to show his identification to the patrolmen. According to the indictment, he then hit one patrolman in the arm and face. The officer spent 42 days on sick leave; reportedly he suffered from pain in the back of his neck.

Bok previously told the court that he noticed the patrolmen arguing with Romani people seated in a car that was parked in front of a driveway. He claimed that one patrolman was threatening to arrest a woman in the car and take her to the police station. The municipal officers were reportedly also checking the identification of everyone seated in the car without any grounds for doing so and were making racist remarks.

Bok said one patrolman in particular was behaving aggressively and xenophobically. The activist therefore stood up for the people in the vehicle. There was an exchange of opinions, after which Bok says patrolman Vít N. ran at him and started poking him in the chest with his finger. After he did this several times, Bok waved his hand away. The patrolman then allegedly punched Bok in the chest and did his best to push him to the ground before pushing him up against a wall and starting to choke him.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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