Charles Bridge graffiti vandal's case takes a new turn due to coronavirus

An appeal by one of the two German men accused of spraying Prague's most iconic landmark has come to a halt

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 25.09.2020 13:00:00 (updated on 25.09.2020) Reading time: 2 minutes

An appeal by one of the people convicted of spraying graffiti on Charles Bridge has been temporarily stopped due the coronavirus pandemic.

Thirty-year-old German tourist Benjamin W is seeking to overturn his conviction for the spraying a heavy metal logo on one of the pillars of Charles Bridge on July 15, 2019.

The appeal hearing was to take place on September 29 at the Prague Municipal Court, but it has now been postponed due to measures against the spread of COVID-19. No new date has been set.

In November 2019, the Prague 1 District Court sentenced Benjamin W and his younger brother Niclas S to a one-year suspended sentence and a 100,000 CZK fine. Both were also expelled from the Czech Republic for five years.

Detail of the graffiti on Charles Bridge / via Raymond Johnston
Detail of the graffiti on Charles Bridge / via Raymond Johnston

The younger brother has accepted the sentence. The older brother maintains that while he was at Charles Bridge during the spraying incident, he did not participate. If Benjamin W’s appeal is unsuccessful, he could lose his civilian job in the German army. Working for the army requires a clean criminal record.

The two brothers were in Prague to see a heavy metal concert. Benjamin W admits both he and his brother were drunk and did not realize how significant the monument is.

The graffiti inscription of the word Sepsis in blue letters flanked by two upside-down crosses was approximately five meters long and 2.2 meters high. It was on a bridge pillar at Kampa near U Lužického semináře street.

A local resident saw the vandals in action and called the police, who arrived while they were still on the scene.

The incident was condemned by Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates). “Spraying on Charles Bridge is a total cultural barbarism. It is good that the perpetrators were caught and will be held responsible. Prague offers many legal graffiti areas, so we will not tolerate illegal spraying,” he wrote on Twitter at the time of the incident.

Charles Bridge pillar after cleaning / via Raymond Johnston
Charles Bridge pillar after cleaning / via Raymond Johnston

Just as restorers hired by the city were preparing to remove the graffiti, it mysteriously vanished overnight. Professional graffiti remover Miloslav Černý admitted that he removed it with a high-pressure spray, as he became concerned over how long the city restorers’ plan would take. While some experts criticized his actions, no legal action was taken against him.

This was not the first time Charles Bridge has been vandalized with graffiti. On Feb. 25, 2016, at around 3 am, two people sprayed “swop #BeBop 21\-16 Charles Bridge” in white paint on the railings near the Old Town side of the bridge. The incident was caught on security cameras. The vandals were later identified as French tourists, but they had already returned home by that time.

In March 2020 there was another incident, with someone painting “Kraków + Moscow = Prague” and has the date 8.3.2020. It was quickly removed.

The 520-meter-long Charles Bridge, originally called “Stone Bridge,” was founded in 1357 under the reign of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Roman Emperor.

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