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Czech Public Defender of Rights says police failed in their response to shooting at children's camp

22.4.2018 8:55
Anna Šabatová on the program
Anna Šabatová on the program "Questions with Václav Moravec"", 23 February 2014 (Photo: Czech Television)

The Czech Police, according to the Public Defender of Rights, committed an error in the case of shooting incidents at a summer camp in the town of Jiřetín pod Jedlovou (Děčín district) attended by Romani children from Ida Kelarová's choral ensemble. The police did not visit the camp after the shootings were reported and made light of the situation.

That is the finding of the 2017 annual report from the Office of the Public Defender of Rights. The incident happened in the summer of 2016.

Those attending the camp reported that the owner of land adjacent to the facility repeatedly fired a weapon into the air and subjected the Romani children to racist abuse. The case of the shootings is now being dealt with by a court in Děčín, and Martin Kout has been indicted for rioting - according to prosecutors, he fired his weapon near the camp and shouted abuse at those attending it.

The defendant claims he is innocent. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison.

Excerpt from the Annual Report of the Public Defender of Rights for 2017

On our own initiative we have reviewed the procedure undertaken by police after a shooting at a summer camp in Jiřetín pod Jedlovou was reported to them. We have ascertained that the officers committed errors by not visiting the camp after the shooting was reported, not investigating the situation, not verifying whether those attending the camp were still in danger, and not contributing to calming the escalated situation, at the very least. We have also discovered unprofessional behavior by police toward those attending the camp who gave statements about the shooting. The police have acknowledged this error and promised to be more active in future such cases.

 

The ombudswoman reviewed the police procedure at her own initiative. From her report on the investigation in March 2017 it can be seen that the police committed an error in not visiting the camp to verify whether those attending it were still in danger.

The Public Defender of Rights says the police procedure was dilatory. "It is apparent that the police officers were basing their decisions just on the allegations made by those telephoning them, primarily the assertions of the shooter himself, and from their search into the firearms license records, which did not show the shooter as having been licensed to hold a weapon," the report says.

The ombudswoman also said that if police are meant to "aid and protect", then they should have contributed to calming the situation and providing the camp management with support. "In that role the police absolutely failed," the report says.

The behavior of an officer at the station when those attending the camp later gave statements to the police was also found to be a problem. According to the Public Defender of Rights, that officer did his best to make light of the entire situation.

The ombudswoman said the officer did not show any awareness whatsoever that those attending the camp feared for the life of their charges. She also said the regional director of the Police has since acknowledged its officer made an error.

However, the Public Defender of Rights does not identify with the conclusions reached by an internal audit by the police, which rejected the idea that the police had committed errors, including when the case was called in to the emergency services line. Those attending the camp have sent an open letter, publicized through news server Romea.cz, to the police about their procedure demanding an apology for the fact that police approached their reporting of the shootings in a dilatory way.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Anna Šabatová, Ida Kelarová, Ombud, Police



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