Czech policemen accused of committing a crime during IMF

The Investigation Department of national police headquarters has been examining police actions during IMF/World Bank meetings in Prague in late September last year, following hundreds of complaints of police brutality were received from protestors. More from Lucie Krupickova:

The IMF/World Bank meetings last September were marked by violent streets clashes between anarchist protestors and the police. More than nine hundred arrests were made, and Czech politicians, the media, and the general public all praised the way the police handled the situation. However, the Czech police have received 389 complaints alleging police brutality towards detainees. I asked the spokeswoman for police headquarters, Ivana Zelenakova, who they had received these complaints from.

As Mrs Zelenakova said, most of the 389 complaints were sent by e-mail. About 300 of them were in English and German, but there were also some written in French and Spanish. Most of the complaints, according to Mrs. Zelenakova, did not deal with the actions of the police on the streets. The complaints were mostly over the conditions under which the demonstrators were detained. They complained that they were not given anything to eat or to drink, or allowed access to a telephone. According to Ivana Zelenakova, investigators tried to contact the authors of these e-mails to ask them to be more specific. Paradoxically, there were few responses.

The inspectors have so far discovered that Czech policemen erred in their actions against demonstrators in five cases, 4 of which were considered misdemeanours and only one had been classed as a criminal act. Ten other suspected crimes are to be investigated.

I asked Mrs Zelenakova why the Czech police has been investigating the actions of its own officers during the IMF/World Bank meetings? Why hasn't an independent body been assigned this task?

"Complaints that refer to minor offences are investigated by the relevant police investigation department within the region. These offences allegedly took place in Prague. This system has been in place for several years and I think these departments serve as a kind of internal monitoring body", Ivana Zelenakova said.

The suspected criminal offences have been investigated by the Interior Ministry's inspection department. This is a separate department to the police force's own investigation department, and the police believe that the Interior Ministry can judge independently whether a policeman has committed a crime or not. Observers, however, claim that, as the police are part of the Interior Ministry, this does not allow for impartiality.

Author: Lucie Krupičková
run audio