When the Czech Republic re-opened its embassy in Zambia last year after a twenty-five-year break, Radek Rubeš handed over his credentials to President Edgar Lungu and set about re-establishing the Czech presence in Lusaka. When I met with him in Prague this week, I asked about the possibilities opening up and how hard it is to build on the Czechoslovak trademark that still rings a bell in Zambia.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has opened a new embassy in the Zambian capital Lusaka. The official opening took place in the presence of visiting Czech Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurecka. The foreign ministry took the decision to open the embassy last December. Zambia will be one of the Czech Republic’s priority countries for development cooperation from 2018.
A Czech clothing designer Beata Rajská announced this week that she is going to the African country of Zambia to teach youngsters there how to sew clothing. The highly successful designer will be joining the staff at a vocational school run by a Brno-based organization Njovu. Masha Volynsky spoke to the NGO’s director, Vendula Jičínská, and asked her about the project that Ms Rajská will be helping with, in the next ten days.
Zambia’s Interior Minister Kennedy Sekeni has called on three Czech nationals who were charged with espionage but fled the country in December to return for trial, Reuters news agency reported on Saturday. Mr Sekeni said a special police team was investigating how the men left the country. The three Czechs, who work for a Dutch firm, visited Zambia after a business trip to South Africa, and were arrested after they took pictures outside a local military base. They were charged with espionage and face up to 30 years in jail. They returned to the Czech Republic with the help of Czech authorities but no details were given about their escape. Spokesman for the Czech Foreign Minister Vít Kolář said on Saturday the ministry would not comment on the case.
In related news, the Czech Republic will not extradite the three alleged spies to Zambia, Czech Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil told Czech Radio on Saturday. The country’s constitution prohibits the extradition of Czech citizens abroad against their will, Mr Pospíšil said. However, the three suspects could be extradited if an international arrest warrant is issued and they travel to a third country. Minister Pospíšil said the Czech authorities had not yet received an official extradition request from Zambia.
Zambian authorities are investigating how three Czechs, who were arrested
in the country on charges of espionage, managed to leave unnoticed, the
Zambia Daily Mail writes on Thursday. According to the report, neither the
Zambian foreign minister nor the Czech men’s lawyer were aware that they
had left Zambia. The three Czech citizens, Jan Coufal, Jiří Cetl and
Michal Vébr, who were arrested in October and later released on bail
returned home in late 2011, but have not disclosed any information about
the exact circumstances of their escape. The Czech Foreign Ministry, which
tried to secure their release through regular diplomatic channels, has put
an information embargo on the case.
The three men were visiting the Zambian capital of Lusaka as tourists after a business trip to South Africa. They were arrested and charged with spying after being found to have photographed an old Czechoslovak plane displayed in front of a military base.
Three Czech citizens who were arrested in Zambia on charges of espionage have been returned home after two and a half months in captivity. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it expects their court proceedings in Zambia will continue in their and hopes their innocence will be proven. The three men were visiting the Zambian capital of Lusaka as tourists after a business trip to South Africa in October. They were arrested and charged with spying after being found to have photographed an old Czechoslovak plane displayed in front of a military base.
President Vaclav Klaus has written a letter to his Zambian counterpart requesting justice for the three Czechs who are to go on trial for spying. The president expressed the hope that the case would be speedily and justly resolved. He said he was conviced that the three men were innocent of any wrongdoing, and had merely wanted to take home snapshots of an exhibited Czechoslovak plane. The Czech nationals face 25 years in prison for having taken photographs of an old plane displayed outside a military base in Lusaka. The Czech government has sent a special envoy to the country in the hope of assisting their case.
The Zambian government has described as unfortunate the efforts of the
Czech government to involve the EU in trying to secure the release of
Czech nationals who face trial in Lusaka over spying charges. Minister of
Foreign Affairs Chishimba Kambwili said Czech efforts to persuade the
European Union to impose sanctions against Zambia if the country does not
release the suspects was not conducive to good relations and that his
country would not be threatened. Mr. Kambwili said the matter was in the
courts and the Zambian government would not interfere with the ongoing
legal proceedings. However it said it remained open to dialogue with
The Czech Foreign Ministry is sending a special envoy to Zambia in connection with the case and MEP Jan Březina recently asked the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to use all available means to help release the Czech citizens. Meanwhile Luděk Zahradníček, Czech ambassador to Zimbabwe who represents the Czech Republic in Zambia, has denied allegations that his country had threatened Zambia with sanctions and expressed hope that the case would soon be resolved.
A special envoy will be sent to Zambia shortly to help three Czech nationals accused of espionage in the country, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said. The three men aged between 35 and 45 arrived in Zambia as tourists and were detained in mid-October after taking photographs outside an air-force base in the capital Lusaka. The local authorities are holding their passports and the men have to check in once a week at a local police station while awaiting trial. If convicted, they could spend up to 25 years in prison.