BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Saturday, 3 August, 2002, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
Journalist murder plot rocks Czechs
Karel Srba
Srba was an alleged masterminder of the foiled plot

The Czech Republic has been shaken recently by perhaps the most bizarre political and criminal scandal since the fall of communism.


He [Karel Srba] was a witty, fast, not intelligent crook

Jan Urban
Former Czech dissident
It centres around a plot to kill one of the country's leading investigative journalists, allegedly organised by a former official at the Foreign Ministry.

The scandal has also led to a series of corruption investigations at the ministry.

And President Vaclav Havel has called for the former Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, to resign from his new position as President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Revelations

It is the first time anything like it has happened here, and the story is more resonant of countries like Belarus or Ukraine.

Former Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan
Kavan dismissed the whole story as 'incredible'

Ironically, journalist Sabina Slonkova, was saved by the man who was supposed to kill her.

A heavily-tattooed small-time thief - known in the underworld as the Lemon - was meant to blow her up with Semtex but instead went to the police.

The plot was allegedly masterminded by Karel Srba, once a senior official at the Foreign Ministry, who lost his job after Ms Slonkova exposed his role in a corruption scandal.

Resignation call

The dirt has also rubbed off on Jan Kavan, now set to become the President of the UN General Assembly.

Czech President Vaclav Havel
President Havel insists Kavan must go

People are asking how he could have employed such a man as Mr Srba, and President Havel has called on Mr Kavan to resign.

But Mr Kavan has rejected the call.

"At this moment the whole story just sounds too incredible. Why? Incredible is the story that Srba and three petty thieves prepared such a fantastic plan in such an amateurish way.

"It just doesn't seem to square with the kind of IQ which Srba clearly has."

Chic lifestyle

But that is not a description that always fits.

"He was a witty, fast, not intelligent crook," Jan Urban, former dissident who met Karel Srba several times, said.

"You could see it from his appearance, from the gold chains round his neck, from his gold rings, from his wish to impress people around him."

Indeed, Mr Srba impressed too much.

His palatial residence has raised questions as to where he got so much money - as have almost $1m in cash which the police found during a search of it.

A web of corruption is emerging, and investigations have begun at the Foreign Ministry into all the public contracts signed over the last four years.

It is not just murder and corruption.

When it emerged that Karel Srba was an agent of the Czech military intelligence, the chief of the service was sacked.

The public are wondering what further revelations are to come.

See also:

11 Jan 01 | Europe
02 Jan 01 | Europe
14 Jul 02 | Country profiles
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes