Czech Supreme Court Overturns 1966 Conviction of Long-Haired Demonstrators

The 1966 demonstration was directed against the communist police action dubbed “Longhairs”. Credit: ÚSCTR archives.

Brno, Oct 5 (CTK) – The Czech Supreme Court has annulled the verdicts in the case of 14 men who attended a protest of young long-haired men (known as “máničky”) in Prague in September 1966, acquitting them of charges brought by the Communist prosecutors.

The court thus upheld a complaint for violation of the law filed by Justice Minister Pavel Blazek (ODS).

“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 court’s ruling reads.

The Supreme Court dealt specifically with the complaints filed on behalf of two of the men: Martin Maryska and Milos Turek. However, the ruling has the same effect for the other 12 men who were also convicted, and whose names were included in Blazek’s second complaint. Eight of them are no longer alive.

Then and now: Martin Maryska. Credit: USCTR Archives.

“Rehabilitation is connected with adequate material compensation. The logical step is to apply to the Justice Ministry for compensation,” defence lawyer Lubomir Muller, who represented Maryska and Turek, told CTK.

He added that the state can influence the conduct of young men in a variety of ways, but it is absolutely unacceptable and illegal for the police to chase them through the streets and violently cut their hair.

The 1966 demonstration was directed against the communist police action dubbed “Longhairs,” allegedly carried out upon the instructions of the Czechoslovak Interior Ministry’s public health officer in August 1966. At that time, police officers caught dozens of young, long-haired men and forcibly cut their hair.

About 130 people participated in the September 1966 protest rally, shouting slogans such as “Down with the Barbers” and “Give us Back Our Hair”. Maryska directed the demonstrators to march in a crowd, according to the period verdict. The communist police violently dispersed the rally.

In the subsequent trial at the Prague 2 District Court, 14 young men participating in the demonstration were convicted, and seven of them were sent to prison for four to 16 months.

Some participants in the protest rally were merely detained or placed in custody, but were not eventually convicted. Muller says they also have a chance to be compensated.


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