Czech police find weapons in house of late Palestinian diplomat

Palestinian diplomatic residence in PragueBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
Authorities in the Czech Republic said they found several weapons in the residence of a Palestinian diplomat who died in a mysterious explosion on New Year’s Day. Jamal al-Jamal, who had assumed the post of Palestinian Ambassador to the Czech Republic in October, died in hospital on Wednesday, having suffered lethal injuries to his chest, abdomen and head. Czech authorities said the 56-year-old was killed by an explosion caused as he opened a safe that had been transferred to his residence from the old Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) offices in downtown Prague. Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad al-Malki said on Wednesday the safe al-Jamal was trying to open at the time of the explosion had come from the old PLO offices in downtown Prague where “no one had touched it for 20 to 25 years”. He added that the blast was triggered just moments after al-Jamal opened the safe in order to record its contents. On Thursday, however, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that several unregistered weapons had been found by police in the official residence of the late diplomat. The statement did not identify the weapons, but Czech government sources expressed concern that the discovery might suggest “a breach in diplomatic rules”. Czech law specifies that all firearms must be registered with the government and permits are compulsory for all who possess them. On Thursday afternoon, US-based news network CNN contacted Czech National Police, and was told by spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova that “several illegal firearms” had been seized by police in al-Jamal’s newly built apartment, located in Prague’s northern suburb of Suchdol. Diplomatic observers will be watching with interest for Prague’s response to these revelations, as the Czech Republic is considered among Israel’s closest allies in the European Union. During the communist era, Czechoslovakia was a staunch ally of the PLO. But successive Czech administrations have sided with Israel in recent years. In 2012, the Czech Republic was one of only nine nations that voted against the proposal to upgrade Palestine’s status to a non-member observer state in the United Nations General Assembly. The country’s President, Milos Zeman, has issued calls to move the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is not internationally recognized as Israel’s capital. Speaking to Agence France Presse on Wednesday, Andor Sandor, former Director of the Czech Military Intelligence Service, said the Palestinians needed to “explain many questions related to the explosion. Why do they breach the Vienna Convention [by deploying explosives, and] why [is] diplomatic immunity being abused for activities that cannot be considered legal?”, he said. He also wondered whether the Palestinians “have more safes like this on Czech territory, in their flats, and who installs such systems there”. A high-level delegation from the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs arrived in Prague on Thursday to assist with the investigation.

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