Interior Minister defends police intervention at Czechtek

Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan has defended police intervention that on Saturday brought to an end an illegal music festival known as Czechtek. Police - numbering more than a thousand and in full riot gear - resorted to using tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of partygoers on a meadow near the village of Mlynec na Tachovsku, west Bohemia. Many refused to leave the grounds and began throwing bottles. According to reports dozens suffered mostly minor injuries, with around twenty partygoers and five officers suffering more serious wounds requiring medical attention.

Despite the clash, the interior minister called the police intervention "necessary", though he said he regretted there had been injuries. Mr Bublan pointed out that officers decided to act following an assessment by a public prosecutor and an authorised expert at the scene, who backed earlier complaints by neighbouring landowners that visitors had damaged private property and broken the law. Police gave a half-hour advance warning before resorting to force to push attendees off the grounds. On the whole some 5,000 visitors attended the Czechtek festival before it was rolled up Saturday.

Author: Jan Velinger