Minister queries UK court’s acceptance of self-defence plea in case involving death of Czech

Lubomír Zaorálek, photo: CTK

The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, has called on UK prosecutors to reconsider a court ruling that cleared a British man of killing a Czech national living in the country. Mr. Zaorálek says he has major doubts over the verdict and his officials have sent a diplomatic note to Britain's Foreign Office.

Lubomír Zaorálek,  photo: CTK
A London court on Monday cleared British man Raymond Sculley of both murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter in connection with the death of Zdeněk Makar in September last year.

The 31-year-old Czech, known to UK friends as Zed, had been going home for work when he became involved in an altercation with Sculley and three other men outside a fast food outlet in the Poplar district of the city.

The court heard how Sculley had hit the Czech on the head with a bicycle lock attached to a heavy chain, striking him at least twice more when he was lying on the ground. Makar was pronounced dead soon afterwards.

Responding to the verdict on Tuesday, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said that the victim had lived in the UK for over 10 years without ever getting into trouble – and that he could not accept the self-defence plea acknowledged by the court.

“Often it’s almost a subjective judgement, whether it’s a case of self-defence or a crime has been committed. This raises a question as to whether it was in fact properly judged, if it was decided justly. Also the UK citizen who after two days reported to the police fled the scene on his bicycle, without attempting to help the injured man or call for help. But despite this we have learned that he is innocent.”

The Czech foreign policy chief said he was calling on British prosecutors to employ all means available under UK law to have the matter reconsidered by a court of appeal.

Mr. Zaorálek said he had raised the issue of Makar’s nationality earlier on Tuesday, when he summoned the UK’s representative in the Czech Republic, Jan Thompson, to the Cernín Palace to discuss the court ruling.

“I asked the ambassador whether there might not be a connection between the verdict and the nationality of the Czech citizen who was killed. The ambassador assured me she thought it had no influence.”

Minister Zaorálek also said he had requested a meeting on the matter with the UK’s Boris Johnson on the side-lines of a gathering of foreign ministers in Brussels on Wednesday.

In addition Mr. Zaorálek’s officials have sent a diplomatic note to the UK Foreign Office via the Czech Embassy in London requesting all relevant documents relating to the case, including a copy of the indictment and the judgement.

The Czech side has also sought reassurances that the victim’s nationality did not influence the outcome, the minister said on Wednesday.