After protesting in the thousands in front of the Interior Ministry on Sunday, dozens of protestors met again in front of the ministry on Monday afternoon, carrying placards criticising police action at CzechTek. Protestors are continuing blame the prime minister and the interior minister for what they see as unjustified police intervention at the weekend. An additional demonstration has been planned for Wednesday.
A decision by Czech police to break-up a techno music festival in Mlynec,
west Bohemia, at the weekend has continued to draw political fire - from
both the opposition and some members of the government. On Saturday around
1,000 police in riot gear forcibly broke up the techno party - attended by
some 5,000 visitors - at the request of landowners who claimed visitors
had damaged their property. Police clashed with dozens of partygoers,
using tear gas and water cannons - leading to score of minor injuries on
both sides. Around 20 people required medical attention.
Although the Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan defended police steps as "necessary", others, including the country's president, Vaclav Klaus, have criticised the move, with the president saying that the use tear gas and water cannons was "inexcusable". Mr Klaus called the move a "gross blunder" and has already said he will call on the country's prime minister for an explanation.
Others, including opposition MP for the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Ivan Langer, called Saturday's use of force "unprecedented" - in his view evocative of police brutality in former Czechoslovakia preceding the fall of Communism in 1989.
In related news, the Justice Minister Pavel Nemec, too, has asked Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan for a detailed report on police operations at CzechTek - saying that the media had raised some doubt on steps taken by police. Mr Nemec also said that the State Attorney's Office had not given instructions to the police on how to proceed - contrary to statements made by the prime minister and Mr Bublan at the weekend.
A spokesman for the Czech Foreign Ministry has said that Frantisek
Priplata, sentenced to eight years in prison in Romania for incitement
to murder, will not face extradition. The Czech businessman escaped
from Romania and returned to the Czech Republic on Friday. The ministry
spokesman stressed that Mr Priplata was in the Czech Republic legally
and said that extradition was out of the question.
An official from Romania's Foreign Ministry has also commented Mr Priplata's case, saying on Monday that Romania would put out an international arrest warrant and seek extradition.
Frantisek Priplata himself has complained that, regarding his legal case, Romania respected neither the law, nor human rights.
The opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats say they will try and
call a special meeting of Parliament's Defense Committee to look into
steps taken by police at CzechTek - and will look for a chance to
question Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan and the Prime Minister Jiri
Paroubek in Parliament. There have already been repeated calls from
some Civic Democrats for the interior minister to resign, calls he has
rejected. On Monday Mr Bublan said if anyone was to blame it was the
organisers of the event themselves, who, in his view, had refused to
communicate with police.
Deputy to the police president Vladislav Husak, meanwhile admitted that riot police at CzechTek were caught off guard by what he described as the "brutality of the crowds".
Steps taken by police at Czechtek on Saturday have drawn criticism from
at least one member of the opposition, right-of-centre Civic Democrat
MP - and shadow Interior Minister - Ivan Langer. On Saturday Mr Langer
accused police of bowing to political pressure from the Prime
Minister's office, saying police had not learned from similar events in
the past. But, the head of the Tachov region police, Jaromir Knize
rejected the charge.
Meanwhile, on Sunday hundreds of young people gathered in front of the Interior Ministry in Prague to protest the police crackdown.
The Czech Republic has officially accepted the military command of the KFOR mission in Kosovo for one year, beginning Sunday. Along with monitoring on the border with Serbia, Czech soldiers in the KFOR mission will now supervise the work of 1,500 counterparts from five other European countries. Defence Minister Karel Kuehnl praised European partners' confidence in the Czechs, who take over from the Finnish army. The Czech Republic is the first of the newer wave of NATO countries to be entrusted with command over other contingents. At present, the Czech Republic has about 500 soldiers in the Kosovo region.
Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan has defended police intervention that
on Saturday brought to an end an illegal music festival known as Czechtek.
Police - numbering more than a thousand and in full riot gear - resorted to
using tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of partygoers on a meadow
near the village of Mlynec na Tachovsku, west Bohemia. Many refused to
leave the grounds and began throwing bottles. According to reports dozens
suffered mostly minor injuries, with around twenty partygoers and five
officers suffering more serious wounds requiring medical attention.
Despite the clash, the interior minister called the police intervention "necessary", though he said he regretted there had been injuries. Mr Bublan pointed out that officers decided to act following an assessment by a public prosecutor and an authorised expert at the scene, who backed earlier complaints by neighbouring landowners that visitors had damaged private property and broken the law. Police gave a half-hour advance warning before resorting to force to push attendees off the grounds. On the whole some 5,000 visitors attended the Czechtek festival before it was rolled up Saturday.
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