Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon sue state over “blunders”

Five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon, photo: archive of Czech Police

Four Czechs who were kidnapped in Lebanon last year are suing the state for financial compensation. They argue that if the country’s intelligence services had been better coordinated they may never have had to endure a grueling period of captivity.

Five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon,  photo: archive of Czech Police
Five Czechs – a lawyer, a military intelligence officer, an Arabic interpreter and two TV reporters – were travelling in Lebanon last year when they were abducted.

Their kidnappers were demanding that Prague not extradite Ali Fayad, a reported member of the Lebanese secret services, to the US to face terrorism charges.

Immediately after the Czechs were let go in February Mr. Fayad was released and returned to Lebanon.

Now four of the five are demanding financial compensation from the Czech state amounting to CZK 40 million.

Czech Finance Ministry spokesman Michal Žurovec made this statement to Czech Radio, which broke the story on Thursday.

Illustrative photo: Czech Television
“At the end of July the Ministry of Finance received a request for compensation for non-pecuniary damages pertaining to the four aggrieved in connection with their abduction in Lebanon. Each of them is claiming compensation of CZK 10 million. The aggrieved are claiming the referred to compensation as a result of maladministration.”

Specifically the four say that if the Czech secret services had been better coordinated they may never have had to spend seven grueling months in captivity.

They say that the civilian intelligence service had information that reprisals for the arrest of Ali Fayad in Prague were planned. The fact that his case came to court also helped lead to their abduction, they argue. One of the kidnap victims, Jan Švarc, was Mr. Fayad’s lawyer.

Another of the plaintiffs, translator Adam Honsi, describes some of what they had to go through.

“We have suffered serious illnesses. One of us was taking six kinds of medicine prior to the abduction for his heart and cardiovascular disease but all they gave him was aspirin. We have also suffered from mental problems. Our scariest experience was when during negotiations the kidnappers told the Czech side that if they didn’t fulfil their demands they would sell one or two of us to Islamic State.”

Robert Pelikán,  photo: Prokop Havel
Czech detectives have been working on the case since the men disappeared last summer. A spokesperson for the state attorney’s office said the investigation was still ongoing.

The minister of justice, Robert Pelikán, has refused to comment on the compensation claims. However, he said in February that the circumstances of the case were strange and the whole matter needed to be thoroughly investigated.