Former Czech Cop To Supervise Czech Police Inspection

Prague Morning

Prague Morning

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A former Czech Communist riot police officer who helped suppress anti-regime rallies in the 1980s will chair a parliamentary committee supervising a police inspection body, lawmakers decided on Friday.

Zdenek Ondráček, a 48-year-old Communist lawmaker, won by a single vote to lead the committee supervising the General Inspection of Security Forces (GIBS), which investigates crimes committed by police officers.

Critics blame Ondráček for his role in anti-Communist rallies in central Prague in 1989, including the November 17 student march brutally suppressed by the police with hundreds of protesters injured. The rally resulted in the Velvet Revolution that toppled Communism in late 1989, four years before Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

On Friday, Ondráček -- dubbed the "Communist thrasher" by some Czech media -- insisted that "we served the country, the citizens of this republic." In January 1989, Ondráček commented on a rally held to commemorate student Jan Palach, who had burnt himself to death 20 years earlier in protest against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Speaking to the communist Czechoslovak TV, the then 20-year-old policeman described the peaceful rally as a violent affair with protesters armed with chains, stones, knives, even knitting needles attacking the police. "I am convinced that action by the riot police unit... was essential for restoring order in the centre of the capital," he said then. In an interview later on, he confessed to having hit a protesting young woman with a truncheon during a rally.

Author: red

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