Czech expert: Palestinians may have used Czech Republic for weapons transit

Former Czech chief-of-staff: "Maybe the affair in question involves a well organized weapons and explosives distribution network."

An investigator works at the site of the explosion in Prague January 1, 2014. (photo credit: REUTERS)
An investigator works at the site of the explosion in Prague January 1, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Czech police have found 12 weapons, including pistols and sub-machine guns, at the Palestinian mission in Prague, Reuters reported Sunday.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said it would demand an explanation from the Palestinians.
The weapons were discovered following an explosion last Thursday that killed Palestinian ambassador Jamal a-Jamal, as he was handling a safe at the complex of the Palestinian mission that includes the embassy and residence.
Czech authorities and the PA immediately ruled out a terrorist attack, describing the incident as an accident.
PA officials in Ramallah refused to comment on the report about the weapons seized inside the mission.
Daily newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes’s website reported that 12 weapons were discovered at the embassy and residence.
National Police Chief Martin Cervicek confirmed the number, but would not say how many pistols or sub-machine guns were found.
“We have to put the weapons through genetic and ballistic testing. Until then we will not release this information,” quoted Cervicek as saying.
A Palestinian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Thursday that the mission’s staff had submitted the arms to the Czech authorities. He said that the weapons had been retrieved from an old slick and had been untouched since Cold War times.
A former Czech official suggested the Palestinians may have used the eastern European country for arms transit.
“Maybe the affair in question involves a well organized weapons and explosives distribution network, including the weapons’ further recipients,” former Czech chief of staff Jiri Sedivy was quoted as saying.
He said he was not referring to terrorism specifically, but rather to the gathering and distribution of military equipment that could be used in military or terrorist activities.
“I’m horrified,” Sedivy said.
“This is not only a blatant violation of diplomatic norms and habits, but also of security rules related to keeping such an arsenal, with apparent implications in the tragic death of ambassador Jamal al-Jamal.”
The Suchdol district where the embassy complex is located has asked the Czech Foreign Ministry to move the Palestinian mission to another area following the discovery of the weapons.
“We asked the Czech Foreign Ministry for the embassy to be moved out of our district,” said Petr Hejl, senior councilor of Suchdol district. “The district feels betrayed by the behavior of diplomats who kept weapons and explosives at the embassy, violating Czech and international law.”
The Czech Foreign Ministry said it “understands” the fears of the Suchdol district residents.
The ministry would “look into it,” said Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Johana Gohova.
In a related development, the slain ambassador’s daughter, Rana al-Jamal, said that her family believes that her father was “deliberately” murdered.
She said that the Czech and PA authorities’ version of her father’s death was “incorrect.”
The daughter, who lives in Ramallah, said that her father, who was a diplomat in Prague between 1984 and 2006, used to open the same safe every day.
She pointed out that her father was appointed as consul in Egypt in 2006 before he recently returned as ambassador to the Czech republic.
The daughter said that when her father returned to Prague two months ago, he discovered that the old safe had been replaced with another one.
“My father decided to move the safe, after emptying it, to his residence near the new embassy,” she said. “A Czech company moved the safe to his home.”
She claimed that the explosives may have been planted inside the safe when the Czech company moved it.