Czech Republic: Three left-wing extremists face life in prison for planning terrorism
Three of the six people who were charged last week after the Czech Police conducted a raid against extremists are now facing the possibility of life in prison. Police say they were preparing a terrorist attack on a train.
Two other individuals will be prosecuted for failing to prevent a crime, while another will be charged with unlicensed weapons possession for allegedly storing weapons of mass destruction in an apartment. Štěpánka Zenklová, spokesperson for the Office of the State Prosecutor in Prague, informed the Czech News Agency of the charges on 6 May.
Prosecutors have kept the legal qualification of the alleged crimes secret until now. Police officers believe the trio now charged were preparing, as an organized group, "to significantly disrupt transportation".
The felony of a terrorist attack is committed by anyone who acts with the intention to harm the Czech Republic's defense capabilities, to disrupt its economic or political structure, to intimidate its population, or to illegally force its Government or any other public authority body to take particular action. News server Lidovky.cz previously reported, referring to police documents, that those being charged are left-wing extremists who have endorsed the Revolutionary Cells Network (Sít' revolučních buněk).
They are alleged to have been planning, since at least last September, to attack a train loaded with military equipment using Molotov cocktails on the main transit railway junction between Prague and Plzeň, specifically somewhere between Radotín and Beroun. The prosecutors do not yet want to provide more details about the alleged criminal activity.
Those charged have filed complaints against their prosecution which will be decided during the next few weeks. Should they be found guilty, they face between 12 and 20 years in prison with the possibility of extraordinary sentencing of up to life in prison.
In addition to depriving them of their liberty, the court can also impose forfeiture of their assets. Zenklová said two of the defendants in the trio are now in custody, while the third has been released.
The accomplice charged with unlicensed weapons possession is also in custody. If convicted on that charge he faces up to five years in prison, while the charge of failing to prevent a crime could result in up to three years.
Zenklová said the weapons were found during a house search. The Czech News Agency reported that the Organized Crime Detection Unit discovered an extremely dangerous object last Tuesday, an improvised explosive device being stored in an apartment in Brno-Královo Pole.
Four people had to temporarily leave their dwellings in connection with the discovery and it took several hours for pyrotechnicians to intervene. Police later raided the Ateneo Community Center in the Czech town of Most on the other side of the country, where discussion evenings and film screenings are held.
The crime of a terrorist attack, as currently defined, was added to the Criminal Code by an amendment in 2004. According to the available information, only one person has ever been convicted of this crime in the Czech Republic so far, a man who drunkenly sent two threatening e-mails to Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) in 2012.
In the e-mails the man claimed that because he was dissatisfied with the situation in his life he would be donning several kilograms of strong explosives and "attempting to destroy everyone at once during an important cabinet session where as many members of the Government would be present as possible". He did not carry out his threat and left the court with a two-year suspended sentence.
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