Czech police arrests  journalist Pavel Eichler

Czech police arrests a journalist

13. 9. 2009 / Štěpán Kotrba

In the early hours of Sunday 13th September, Czech police arrested Mr. Pavel Eichler, a reporter working for the widely read Czech internet daily Eichler was monitoring the activities of squatters who had occupied a house in Apolinářská Street in Prague. He was arrested along with the 24 squatters on whose activities he was reporting.

Eichler is a specialist in right-wing extremism, in alternative communities and alternative culture. He stayed with the squatters in the occupied house from Saturday until Sunday morning when, in the early hours of the morning he left the house, responding to the orders of the police

Although the arrested journalist told the police that he was in the house to cover the demonstration for his newspaper, Czech police spokesperson Tomáš Hulan said that this was irrelevant and he would be dealt with as any other squatter.

UPDATE According to information published by the server on Sunday night, Pavel Eichler was released after being held for fifteen hours by the police. During his detention the police prevented him from contacting his family and his solicitor. "All along I repeatedly asked the police to make it possible for me to contact my lawyer. Five different policemen ignored this repeated request and the last one told me that rather than being allowed to contact my solicitor, the police will bash my face in," said Pavel Eichler for iDnes.

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So far, it has never happened in the Czech Republic that Czech police would arrest journalists, who are clearly marked as PRESS. If the police doesn't respect the work of journalists who need to be present in conflict situations, the Czech Republic moves nearer a police state than one would wish, says Britské listy reporter Štěpán Kotrba.

Eichler can be sentenced to two years'imprisonment for "illegally entering private property".

As iDnes and report, Eichler and the 24 squatters will be tried by soudní příkaz, a judge's "court order" (according to Article 324e of Law No. 141/1961 of the Collection of Laws). Being sentenced by a "court order" means that a judge is entitled to issue a verdict without any legal proceedings taking place and without the accused being present at court or even being aware that he/she is being sentenced. Soudní příkaz can be used to sentence individuals to suspended prison terms for up to one year, to community work and to fines. The judge's verdict is delivered by post to the defendant but if the defendant isn't present at his/her regular address, the verdict is still considered to have been delivered to him/her. If the defendant doesn't appeal within eight days, his/her right to full court proceedings is anulled. If full court proceedings do take place, the defendant can be sentenced to up to two years of imprisonment.

A Czech version of this article, with links to further sources (in Czech) is CLICK HERE


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