Bratislava’s Old Town council broke the law when it forbade NGOs from organising a demonstration in front of the Presidential Palace during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit in June, the Bratislava Regional Court decided on July 14, the TASR newswire reported.
The local authorities will now have to pay the court costs incurred by Ondrej Dostál from the Conservative Institute - one of the NGOs that held a protest during the visit, wrote TASR.
Dostal submitted an announcement to Bratislava Old Town that his organisation was planning a demonstration on Hodža Square on June 18-19 in order to support human rights in China. The council turned down the application, however, claming that the President's Office had already reserved the area in May.
According to Dostál, the President's Office didn't announce any gathering in accordance with the law. It only stated that it was intending to use Hodža Square during the visit.
Marek Jánošík, a lawyer who defended the local authorities at the court, still contends that Bratislava Old Town acted in accordance with the law. He conceded that the information provided by the Presidential Office didn't take the form of an announcement but the council concluded that the two events could collide and so decided not to allow protests on the same spot. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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