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Czech report Czech report
by Euro Reporter
2011-10-21 07:44:44
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Arms exports to Yemen, Libya under Amnesty attack

The Czech Republic has been singled out as one of the main arms suppliers to repressive regimes in the Middle East and North Africa in a report by the human rights watchdog and campaigner Amnesty International. Amnesty’s report “Arms transfers to the Middle East and North Africa: Lessons for An Effective Arms Trade Treaty” picks out the Czech Republic alongside France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Britain and the US as main arms suppliers to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen from 2005. It says many western states that are now enthusiastically supporting new governments that overthrew oppressive regimes had previously been arming those arming those same regimes.

The report lists the Czech Republic as one of 11 states where military assistance, weapons, munitions or other assistance was given to Yemen. Amnesty pointed out that more than 200 protesters have been killed in Yemen this year. Specifically, the report says the Czech Republic supplied small bore guns worth €2.97 million, ammunition worth €8.38 million, and armoured vehicles costing €11.8 million to Yemen between 2007 and 2009.

“Despite the continued brutal crackdown against protesters, the international community has failed to take strong action to stem arms transfers to Yemen,” it added. Exports to Libya, where a long and bloody uprising against the near 40-year-old regime of Moamer Gaddafi has just ended, comprised armoured vehicles costing €1.9 million and toxic agents supplied in 2006 worth €421,000. Deals were done across the region ahead of popular risings this year in some of the countries “despite having evidence of a substantial risk they [the arms] could be used to commit serious human rights violations,” Amnesty said.


Police to investigate alleged bribe paid for President Klaus’ pardon

Mayor Dorňák says he made no guarantees on behalf of Kadlecová in his letter to the president, and Dr Konečný says he and his colleagues at Ostrov hospital received no request from — nor submitted any report on Kadlecová’s health to — the presidential administration. “I’m not going to lie to you. … I met her several months after she received the pardon. I asked her how she was, and during the conversation she said the letter I wrote was just a formality; the pardon was paid for and she needed to have something in her hands just for appearances,” Dorňák said, adding that he didn’t go to the police because there were no witnesses to the conversation.

About a year and a half ago after Kadlecová refused to answer any questions about her pardon, a journalist from Respekt contacted her pretending to want advice on how to secure a pardon for her son. “I can take your telephone number, but I can’t promise you anything. I can ask my uncle, but I doubt he’ll want to speak about it,” Kadlecová said. When asked about the cost, the former police official said, “I can’t even tell you. I don’t know at all what the amount was. They didn’t want to tell me, so I didn’t worry myself about it. I know that it was probably a lot.”      

Klaus and his administration deny any possibility whatsoever of a payment being made to secure a presidential pardon: “I must categorically rule out that anything of the sort could have taken place. The system in place for deciding upon appeals for a pardon from the president of the republic rules out any possibility for abuse,” Klaus’ spokesman, Radim Ochvat, told Czech Position, the same response. Further, Czech Position asked Prague Castle about what information Klaus and his advisors received about Kadlecová’s state of health — a reason stated for her pardon: “I cannot tell you the name of the doctor,” Ochvat said. He sidestepped questions as to why in the Nov. 16 press release announcing Kadlecová’s pardon he stated that Dorňák and others had given “guarantees” for Kadlecová, given that the mayor said he pledged no such guarantee in his letter to Klaus requesting lenience for Kadlecová. “The mayor of Chýš wrote a letter in her support dated 12.8.2009,” Ochvat offered in way of a reply.


Czech Police investigate exorbitant heating charges at housing estate in Šluknov

Yesterday's North Bohemian regional edition of the Czech daily Mf DNES reported new information in the case of inflated charges for heat at a housing estate in the town of Šluknov which is inhabited primarily by pensioners and Romani families. News server Aktuálně.cz reported the suspicions at the start of September. The owner of the housing estate, Pavel Zeithammer, says the high cost of heating the complex is because of the Solo Sport TUV thermal power station, owned by entrepreneur Karel Sommer.

In an interview for Mf DNES, Zeithammer said unauthorized increases in the charges for heat had occurred in previous years. He claims it wasn't until last year that he was permitted, as owner of the property, to access the meters that record how much power is drawn. That changed things, according to Zeithammer: "After that intervention, there was a reduction in the amount of power registered as drawn by the meters by about 2 800 GJ per year. In monetary terms, that is more than CZK 2 million. According to an analysis we commissioned, Solo Sport was paid almost CZK 6 million more for power than was actually consumed over the course of three years."

Zeithammer is said to have filed criminal charges against Solo Sport. However, police shelved the case because the original meters were destroyed along with the necessary evidence.  At the start of September, Solo Sport claimed Zeithammer's Šluknov Apartments company, which leases apartments at the housing estate, is billing tenants for twice as much power as they actually consume. Zeithammer rejects the allegations. Nonetheless, the thermal power station has filed criminal charges against him. Michaela Pretschová, an attorney representing some of the tenants at the housing estate, told news server iDNES.cz that she has information that confirms Solo Sport's allegations that Zeithammer is actually behind the overcharging.

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