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Czech Police arrest 16 activists from the Autonomous Social Center Klinika, charges being pressed

26.5.2016 6:24
An anonymous bomb threat on 24 May 2016 was the second in a week bringing police to the Autonomous Social Center Klinika in Prague. (PHOTO:  Jitka Votavová,
An anonymous bomb threat on 24 May 2016 was the second in a week bringing police to the Autonomous Social Center Klinika in Prague. (PHOTO: Jitka Votavová,

Police intervened Tuesday at the Klinika building on Jeseniova Street in Prague and took a total of 16 activists from the community center there into custody after they refused to obey police instructions to leave the building. The activists are suspected of committing misdemeanors against public order because they refused to cooperate with officials, Prague Police spokesperson Tomáš Hulan posted to the police website.

The Office for Government Representation in Property Affairs (Úřad pro zastupování státu ve věcech majetkových - ÚZSVM), which owns the building, considers it illegal for the activists to be remaining in the building when their lease expired at the beginning of March. Radek Ležatka, ÚZSVM spokesperson, told the Czech News Agency the authorities have filed yet another criminal report over the matter.

Bomb threats made against Klinika on Friday and Tuesday brought police to the building to search it, after which they handed it over to bureaucrats from the ÚZSVM. Representatives of the ÚZSVM announced Tuesday evening that they had taken the building back and secured it but that activists had subsequently entered it once more.

"We repeatedly warned those present that the building was now empty and locked, and that it would be illegal for them to break in. The ÚZSVM also called the police to the scene in order to intervene should anybody break in," Ležatka said.

Klinika's members, just like anybody else, must uphold legal regulations, according to the ÚZSVM. "We are using all legal means to make sure the rights of the Czech Republic are consistently protected," Ležatka emphasized.

Members of the police anti-conflict team and other officers called on the squatters to leave Klinika, but some chained themselves to a barrel filled with concrete. Officers had to use heavy equipment to disconnect them before taking them to the police station.

"We have documented the behavior of these people and we will be sending the necessary documentation to the relevant administrative bodies later in order to resolve this situation," the police spokesperson said. Some people from Klinika also climbed onto the roof of the building and refused to come down.

"Given that it later began to rain heavily and grew dark as time passed, any intervention from our side would have risked the health and lives of those persons," Hulan said. Officers brought their intervention to an end without taking action against the persons on the roof.

What happened on Tuesday was a repetition of the situation that occurred last Friday, when another anonymous tip caused the building to be cleared in the same way. Police officers also responded Tuesday to a bomb threat announced at the Řízkárna restaurant, which has had to be cleared by police due to anonymous threats many times already.

The squatters say they are suing the ÚZSVM over the use of the building and that their current legal status is such that they can enter the building. The ÚZSVM has called their approach unacceptable and a dangerous precedent, while police are still trying to identify who made the bomb threats so charges can be fired for raising a false alarm.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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