Czechs arrested for espionage disappear?

Czechs arrested for espionage disappear?

MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Chishimba Kambwili says he does not know how the three Czech nationals arrested in Zambia in October last year on a charge of espionage found their way back to their home country.
Mr Kambwili was commenting on reports in the international media, suggesting that the Czech nationals are back in their country.
“I am not privy to the information concerning the Czech nationals. The Minister of Home Affairs Kennedy Sakeni has not briefed me yet because he is out of town on duty,” Mr Kambwili said.
He said he will get more details when Mr Sakeni gives him an update.
And when contacted, Mr Sakeni said he was equally not in a position to comment on the matter as he was in Mansa.
“Call my permanent secretary who is always in the office,” Mr Sakeni said.
Repeated efforts to get the permanent secretary at Home Affairs proved futile by press time.
Kelvin Bwalya Fube, the lawyer of the Czechs, said in a telephone interview: “I have absolutely no information regarding this matter because I have been caught up in election petitions. I told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the same thing.”
The Czech Foreign Office on Sunday said that its nationals who were detained and charged with espionage have returned home.
The three are Michal Vebr, 45, a welder, Jiri Cetel, 45, a technician and Jan Coufal, 36, a carpenter.
They were arrested for taking pictures of entrances to Arakan Barracks, Zambia Air Force (ZAF) airbase and Mikango Barracks.
The pictures included one of a decommissioned military plane, along with “No Entry” signs outside another installation and the entrance to State House.
They appeared before magistrate Ruth Chilembo for mention and committal to the High Court.
Ms Chilembo committed Vebr, Cetel and Coufal to the High Court for trial and granted them K10 million cash bail each.
The three are charged with espionage, contrary to section 3 (b) of the State Security Act, Chapter 111 of the Laws of Zambia.
“Having received a certificate of committal from the Director of Public Prosecutions, I do hereby commit the three of you (Vebr, Cetel and Coufal) to the High Court for your trial,” she said.
And Ms Chilembo granted K10 million cash bail to each of the accused persons, and ordered them to surrender their passports to the senior clerk of court. They were represented by Kelvin Bwalya of KBF.
In November, Czech President Vaclav Klaus wrote a letter to President Michael Sata, delivered by a special Czech envoy, insisting that the three Czechs detained in Lusaka did not plan any crime.
Mr Klaus wrote that accusations were levelled against the three as they photographed buildings and objects on public display, some of which accidentally found themselves in the vicinity of military and government buildings.
After a week in prison, the tourists were released on bail but they could not leave Zambia.

 

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