Sunday, August 21, 2005

Czech president demands explanation of rave bust-up

Czech president demands explanation of rave bust-up
01 Aug 2005 17:29:51 GMT
Source: Reuters
PRAGUE, Aug 1 (Reuters) - The Czech president said on Monday a police crackdown which injured dozens at a rave was a grave mistake that split the country, adding that politicians may have overstepped the constitution in ordering it. Police used teargas, water cannon, stun grenades and batons on Saturday to end the party in a meadow near the village of Mlynec in southwestern Czech Republic, near the German border. Thousands of people demonstrated outside the Interior Ministry on Monday, protesting against what they called brutal police action. The office of President Vaclav Klaus, a former chief of the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats, said in a statement: "Those who approved the intervention bear full responsibility for damaging trust in the police and creating another split in our country." The police action was ordered by the local police chief and backed by Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan and Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who both said police acted to uphold the law. On Monday, Paroubek said in a statement he was sorry for the injuries on both sides, and that the action would be evaluated by the Interior Ministry's internal affairs division. The president's statement said the intervention was a "grave mistake" and demanded an explanation from the centre-left government. "The president will further follow the investigation of this case and demand an explanation from the government why there was such police intervention," it added. "It is also necessary to find out if some political steps before the police intervention, and during it, did not go beyond the framework of the constitution," the statement said. Klaus does not have much executive power but his views are taken seriously by many politicians. The interior minister was quoted by Czech media as saying he and Paroubek had planned how to respond to the party in advance. The party's organisers said they had a contract to use the meadow, but police said they were asked by owners of neighbouring land to halt the concert because their property was being damaged. TV footage showed some party-goers throwing bottles and rocks at the policemen.

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