TEXT OF THE LETTER
His Excellency, Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata,
President of the Republic of Zambia
P.O. Box 30135
Subject: Release of Jan Coufal, Jiri Cetel and Michal Vebr
We contact you with a plea to kindly revoke a detention of our three family members, citizens of the Czech Republic: Jan Coufal, Jiri Cetel and Michal Vebr, who were travelling to the Republic of Zambia as tourists after making a web-based assessment of your country as one of the safest countries in Africa. These men are now accused of spying with possible charges of at least 25 years in prison.
According to available information the men who confronted our family members on October 12, 2011 were from the military police near Zambia Air Force (ZAF). The confrontation was based on taking photographs of a veteran Czechoslovakian aircraft placed on a pole in front of the facility.
Per request of the police, on October 14, 2011, Jan, Jiri and Michal voluntarily came to the local police station to explain the misunderstanding and reclaim their cameras and passports, which were previously confiscated on October 12, 2011. However, they were placed in police custody and consequently to jail per their arrival, and three days later were charged with accusations of ‘spying.’
We would like to bring your attention to the fact that our family members spent one week in very substandard conditions of Lusaka jail system, instead of the 48 hours that are mandated by the international law, not allowing them their rights to sound trial.
Mr. Zahradnicek, the head of the Czech Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, with the help of a lawyer and an honorary consul secured their release on $2000 bail per each person on October 21, 2011.
While being out on bail, Jan, Jiri and Michal are still facing the same accusations even though the Czech Embassy released a statement that these accusations are completely made up and constructed, including the allegation stating that the three men were drawing the layout of the military barracks and ZAF. These alleged sketches and plans do not even exist and thus are not even a part of the file.
We believe that our loved ones were arrested by mistake and furthermore their case was incorrectly evaluated by the local law enforcement agency which did not take into consideration the tourist interests of our family members in your country.
In conclusion, we are turning to you, your Excellency, with our plea to release our loved ones as soon as possible. This is a request of very concerned families and friends asking for your immediate consideration to free Jan, Jiri and Michal from Zambian arrest.
The families would love to thank you for taking the time to hear our supplication.