Singer Karel “Charlie” Soukup received a ten-month prison sentence in 1980 for alleged rioting, which, according to the ruling of the time, consisted of singing vulgar songs in a pub after a wedding. However, according to the complaint of the Minister of Justice Pavel Blažek (ODS), it was actually a political persecution, which has now been confirmed by the Supreme Court (NS). He also overturned the verdict on another convict, Jindřich Tomeš, who at the time was serving a one-year prison sentence. Both men have a chance for compensation.
According to NS, both Soukup and Tomeš ended up in prison for acts that could not be considered criminal in a democratic legal state. “The enforcement criminal authorities of the totalitarian state legally qualified them not as political, in order to cover up the real political reason for the repression and to make ‘ordinary criminals’ out of actually political victims, thereby reducing their respectability in society,” stated NS.
Soukup, who is now 72 years old, belonged to the circle of the Czech cultural underground as a singer-songwriter. He signed Charter 77. In 1982, after physical and psychological pressure from the communist secret police, he went into exile, lived in France, then in Australia. Even before he emigrated, he ended up in prison, because of the songs he sang in April 1980 in a restaurant in Ryjice in the Ústeck region in the evening at the wedding party of his friends. According to the judgment of the time, he used vulgar and obscene expressions in his songs out of “obvious disrespect towards society”. However, it is no longer possible to find out exactly what was heard in the lyrics of the songs.
Soukup could now theoretically claim compensation for his imprisonment. Lawyer Lubomír Müller recently stated that Soukup’s pension could also improve slightly.
Soukup’s name was mentioned in November by Charter 77 signatory Jiří Gruntorád, who held a protest hunger strike in front of the government headquarters in Prague for several days. Due to the low pensions of dissidents, among whom he mentioned Soukupa, he demanded the resignation of Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL). The small pensions of opponents of the communist regime are often followed by imprisonment, forced emigration or the inability to work.