Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Crime rate rises by 7% in Czech Republic

21 January 2014

Prague, Jan 20 (CTK) - The crime rate in the Czech Republic has increased by almost 7 percent year-on-year, among others due to the amnesty, which previous president Vaclav Klaus declared at the beginning of 2013, deputy police president Vaclav Kucera told reporters Monday.

Last year, the police registered over 325,000 crimes, some 43 percent of which were cleared up. This has been the fourth lowest number of criminal offences in the past 20 years, Kucera added.

In 2013, detectives managed to seize the perpetrators' money and other property worth 8.5 billion crowns, which is 40 percent more than a year before, he said.

"The amnesty is the main factor raising the crime rate but not the only one," Kucera said.

The amnesty applied to convicts with low suspended or prison sentences and elderly convicts. Besides, it halted criminal prosecution if it had lasted for more than eight years, and if the maximum prison sentence that could be imposed in such cases did not exceed ten years, which applied to some high-profile corruption and financial fraud cases.

Since the beginning of last year, when the amnesty was declared, the police have prosecuted 40 percent of the total of 6300 released prisoners.

The police monitored the highest rise in property crimes, which made up over 60 percent of all crimes, mainly burglaries into houses (20-percent year-on-year rise), Kucera said.

"This is partially caused by the recent boom of houses. It is also connected with their insufficient protection," he added.

However, the police also registered a higher number of robberies as well as financial and drug-related crimes last year.

The number of uncovered drug delicts increased by over 25 percent compared to 2012 also because the police more focused on these crimes lately, Kucera noted.

A total of 117,000 people were prosecuted last year, over a half of whom were repeat criminals.

Kucera Monday also said the number of murders had decreased from 188 in 2012 to 182 last year.

The highest crime rise was monitored in the capital of Prague, where 8000 more criminal offences were committed last year compared to 2012. The total crime rate in Prague made up a quarter of all crimes in the country.

Kucera Monday summarised the case of methanol poisoning from bootleg spirits that claimed 49 lives in the Czech Republic and over 80 people had to be hospitalised.

"In connection with the methanol case, we conducted criminal proceedings of at least 90 perpetrators. As of January 10, 2014, state attorneys charged 84 accused," Kucera said.

Some of the accused have been remanded in custody.

The police seized 13,000 litres of tainted liquor but they have not found another 2000 litres that citizens might still possess.

Besides, policemen uncovered 600 litres of pure methanol.

The police estimate that the amount could kill up to 160,000 people.

However, Kucera proposes that the Metyl special police team formed over the methanol case be dissolved in late January.

Milan Pospisek, chief of the Criminal Police and Investigation Service, added that the police would like to focus on cyber crime in 2014.

The Czech police lacked experts and modern technology to fight cyber crime but the equipment has been upgraded thanks to a 50-million-crown investment, he added.

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