Former top official accused of plotting to kill journalist
Police arrested four people on Monday in connection with an alleged plot to kill a top investigative journalist. The four - who include a former senior government official - allegedly conspired to kill Sabina Slonkova, a journalist with the leading daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, in the most high-profile case in the Czech Republic's post-Communist history. Rob Cameron has the story.
"I found out exactly two weeks ago. It was July 9th, in the evening. The doorbell rang, and I opened it to find officers from the anti-organised crime unit. They told me they'd arrested someone who'd admitted to being hired to kill me. My initial reaction was the same as anyone else's would be in that situation - it was so ridiculous I refused to believe it. But unfortunately it wasn't a joke, and the contract to kill me was real."
With the help of the would-be assassin, police spent the next two weeks tracing leads and putting together the connections. The man was told to report to his accomplice that everything had gone to plan, and that Slonkova was dead. Phones were tapped, people were followed. Sensationally, the trail led to Karel Srba, a former senior civil servant at the Foreign Ministry.
The sensational allegations have received widespread coverage in the Czech media, waking the papers from their summer lull. But the allegations against Mr Srba remain just that - allegations, although you wouldn't believe it from reading today's headlines. Commentator Vaclav Zak says they've jumped the gun a bit.
"The media is again acting as if accusation is proof. But of course, Mr Srba is not very popular, it's true."
Is something like this, in this day and age, possible in the Czech Republic? That a senior official could order the killing of a journalist? This isn't Belarus, is it?
"It is really a very sad story, but I'm afraid it could be true. Because the use of force for solving problems, it's a pity but it's common in this country at the present time."
Maybe not in politics but in business.
"Mainly in business, but in personal relations as well. There are people who order contract killers to kill their wives."
Vaclav Zak, editor in chief of the bi-monthly Listy, ending that report by Rob Cameron.