Hradec Králové - It all started as an artistic attempt to draw attention to the virtual nature of media reality. It all ended with seven members of the art group Ztohoven being taken to court and later cleared. Now, Ztohoven face up to three years in prison again and the show is not over yet.
They have to attend a new hearing brought up against them at a district court in Trutnov. Ecologically concerned, they will take a bus to the small town in northern Bohemia.
In 2007, six members of a Czech art-guerilla group called Ztohoven, which hacked into a public service TV program with a video montage displaying what looked like a genuine nuke explosion in June last year, were originally accused of inducing public panic.
Last week, during a closed meeting, regional court in Hradec Králové annulled previous ruling from March 2008 that cleared them.
Trutnov´s district court freed them, ruling that they did not cause harm or panic.
The name Ztohoven is a play on words which can either mean "Out of that" or "A hundred turds" - written differently in Czech, but sounding the same.
Read more: Court rules on Ztohoven's virtual explosion
At the Trutnov´s district court the testimony of target witness psychologist Jan Lašek was in favor of the group, while other testimonies were rather confusing and based on second-hand information.
However, state prosecutor Dušan Ondráček appealed against this decision in April 2008, but court in Hradec Králové returned the case to the lower instance.
"The ruling is annulled and the case returns to Trutnov´s district court for re-hearing," explained the court's spokesman to České noviny server. However, the spokesman refused to identify the reasons why the ruling was annulled because Ztohoven themselves have not received an official statement yet.
According to the information of Czech TV, the regional court's commission founded the evidence incomplete and suggested that the district court hear more witnesses.
Fine or award? Both
Most of the accused refused to testify at the district court and referred to the group's manifesto.
If the verdict is guilty, the members of the group face up to three years in prison andúor a fine.
In fact, they have already been fined by the Board for Radio and Television Broadcast. Three of them had to pay CZK 50,000 (EUR 2,000) for their "unauthorized interference with public service broadcast".
In 2007, the guerilla art ensemble´s piece Media Reality was awarded the National Gallery Prize 333. The competition is designed for artists under 33 years of age and the main prize is CZK 333,000.
Rumour has it that because of the CZK 333,000 award, the Board dared go ahead and fined the young artists who obviously do not make any money from their non-commercial art.