Czech Justice Minister says police work failed during demonstrations in Prague
The police, according to Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikán, failed on Saturday when they did not intervene against masked rioters attacking the procession of the "No to Racism" initiative as it was heading to Prague Castle. He believes the commanders of the police maneuvers should be disciplined.
Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) wants to leave time for investigation of the police activity and has rejected what he characterized as a call for a "political trial". Pelikán believes what happened Saturday does not require the two-week investigation planned by the Interior Ministry, but that those who led the maneuvers should be disciplined for the outcome.
"There was a failure of police work," the Justice Minister told the press on Monday after a cabinet session. "I would expect that the commanders of the maneuvers would be held accountable, as would those they were commanding."
Pelikán emphasized that at public gatherings, according to Czech law, no one is allowed to mask their faces or carry weapons. "We have video footage of armed people with masked faces and a group of police is calmly watching as they proceed - I believe there is nothing more to investigate," he said.
Chovanec responded on Twitter that a thorough investigation takes time. "The Justice Minister does not have enough of a sense of justice to give us two weeks for a proper investigation?" he tweeted.
"We've already had political trials here before..." the Interior Minister then tweeted. The Prague Police also defended themselves in numerous press releases against criticisms related to Saturday's demonstration.
Police Director Miloš Trojánek said his officers proceeded "strictly according to the law with the maximum use of the means and methods of anti-conflict communications." Czech Minister for Human Rights and Legislation Jiří Dienstbier (ČSSD) has said he anticipates the Government will receive a summary assessment of the weekend's events from the Interior Ministry.
According to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD), the Government is expecting an independent, thorough police investigation of Saturday's attack on the Klinika Social Center and it is important to discover who the perpetrators were. A group of masked people attacked the center and police are investigating crimes of rioting, reckless endangerment and property damage in relation to the incident.
Sobotka said the Government has reviewed Saturday's events and is unified in its position. "Any intimidation, spreading of hatred, or even violence is unacceptable in a democratic society. Those who break the laws must count on the state prosecuting such behavior," Sobotka said at a press conference.
That attack has also been condemned by Vice Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek (Christian Democracts - KDU-ČSL). Original reports said a group of masked people threw Molotov cocktails at the center.
Firefighters managed to put out the blaze within four minutes. Those at Klinika said neo-Nazis attacked the building using rocks and flares, which set part of the café on fire.
There were more than 20 people in the building at the time. Those at Klinika believe there is a connection between the attack and the demonstrations against Islam that happened earlier that day.
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