Current Affairs Czech Bonnie and Clyde make headlines

13-11-2009 16:52 | Jan Richter

It’s the kind of story that makes film scenarios - a husband and wife on the run after a daring escape from prison, just a few months after their wedding. But this story ended badly – within 24 hours of the man’s escape, the police had caught up with them. The man was dead, the woman critically injured. Who are the Czech Bonnie and Clyde and what happened on their desperate flight to safety?

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Forty-three-year-old repeat offender Pavel Tauchen was serving a five-year sentence in the Bory maximum-security prison in Plzeň, western Bohemia, for safe breaking. On Tuesday, his wife put into action a well-laid plan.

Dagmar Tauchenová, Pavel Tauchen, photo: CTKDagmar Tauchenová, Pavel Tauchen, photo: CTK Faking an ear-problem, the man was escorted to see a doctor. As he and his guards were walking out of the hospital, his wife, who was walking in front of them, turned around, pulled out a gun and threatened to shoot the guards if they don’t let her man go.

The guards complied, which they later justified by the fact that they were surrounded by too many people. The man, still handcuffed, followed his wife to a car park where they jumped into a car and sped off. It’s not clear whether another accomplice was involved; what is clear from a witness’s account is that the wife opened fire on the guards who were pursuing them.

The police suspected that the couple was heading abroad but were apparently tipped off on Wednesday afternoon that they might be hiding in a relative’s house in the village of Hajany, in southern Bohemia.

The police searched the house but failed to find them. They therefore set up road checks, and that’s where they caught the couple.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The police have embargoed the case and there is very little information about what happened after that. But an officer anonymously told the news website aktualne.cz that the man shot himself in the head and died on the spot, while his wife tried to run away and was shot in the chest by the police. She was immediately flown to a hospital in Plzeň by helicopter, operated on and doctors say she is now out of danger.

An autopsy revealed that the gunshot in the escaped prisoner’s head was not inflicted by a police weapon, but many questions remain unanswered: why the couple made the cardinal mistake of returning to a place where they were well known, whether there was another accomplice involved, and if the police used unnecessary force in detaining them. The wife who risked her life to free her husband is not yet well enough to give testimony, but she almost certainly will be charged and may face up to 15 years in prison.

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