Questions remain over police operation as Czechs honour victims of pub shooting spree

05-03-2015

As people around the Czech Republic remember the eight people shot dead in an apparently random attack at a pub in Uherský Brod last week, questions are still being asked about how the police handled the situation. An investigation into the operation may take some time. But for now the interior minister has proposed steps aimed at averting similar incidents in future.

Photo: ČTKPhoto: ČTK Emergency sirens and church bells were heard across the country for two minutes and 20 seconds at noon on Thursday as Czechs remembered the eight people shot dead at a pub in the normally sleepy Eastern Moravian town of Uherský Brod on Tuesday last week.

But while people have expressed sympathy for the victims of the biggest killing spree of its kind in modern Czech history, they have also been asking questions about whether the police responded to the situation adequately.

Photo: ČTKPhoto: ČTK The newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Thursday that armed local police officers in Uherský Brod approached the Družba pub where the massacre happened twice without intervening.

From the first report of a shooting it was an hour and a quarter before a special operations team arrived from Brno – and another half hour before they entered the pub, after the attacker, believed to have been mentally ill, had taken his own life.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, the minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, said it was necessary to await the outcome of an investigation by the police’s internal affairs team.

Milan Chovanec, photo: Archive of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech RepublicMilan Chovanec, photo: Archive of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic “I’m very glad that both the government and the Chamber of Deputies’ Security Committee have said we should wait for the results of an investigation and then, come what may, conclusions will be drawn. At the present moment, I don’t have any information that would cast doubt on the intervention, or that there would be any doubts leading to a criminal investigation of a specific officer.”

Nevertheless, Minister Chovanec has made some concrete proposals in the wake of the tragedy. These include providing special operations teams with the technology to act at greater speed – including more helicopters.

Another idea is to give local authorities wider powers when it comes to the issuing of gun permits. This suggestion is welcomed by the mayor of Uherský Brod, Patrik Kunčar.

Patrik Kunčar, photo: ČT24Patrik Kunčar, photo: ČT24 “Every measure that helps to reduce risk is definitely a good thing. You can’t eliminate risk completely, because we can’t forget there’s a black market in weapons. But in this case we know the culprit had a legally held weapon. He had a legal gun permit. So in this case such a measure would have helped.”

Given the scale of the investigation, it has been reported that it could take the police’s internal affairs unit several months to produce a report on what happened in Uherský Brod last week.

05-03-2015