Prague - Twelve weapons, pistols and submachine guns, were found in the seat of the Palestinian ambassador in Prague after his death in a safe explosion on Wednesday, Czech police head Martin Cervicek told iDnes.cz today, specifying the number of weapons that has been subject to speculations so far.
Palestine insists that the uncovered weapons are not illegal.
"I´ve confirmed the [uncovering of] 12 pieces of weapons. Genetic and ballistic expertises are underway now. After the results are known, we will specify what concrete types of weapons are involved," Cervicek told CTK later today.
According to the AP press agency, Palestinian deputy foreign minister Taysir Jaradat has denied that the weapons were illegal.
"We told them [the Czech side] that these guns have been in the embassy for a long time — going back to the former regime of Czechoslovakia — and these guns were either licensed in the embassy or were given as gifts to the ambassador," Jaradat told Voice of Palestine radio station today, quoted by AP.
Until now the Czech police have declined to specify the number of seized weapons, in view of the ongoing investigation.
The authority of the Prague 6 district, where the Palestinian embassy´s new building is situated, told CTK on Friday, referring to sources close to the investigation, that 70 weapons had been uncovered at the embassy, including submachine guns.
In reaction to this, former Czech chief-of-staff Jiri Sedivy in Saturday´s interview with server Aktualne.cz called on Palestinian diplomats to explain what their arms arsenal in Prague served for.
He said the affair may involve a well organised weapons and explosives distribution network within which an extensive transfer of weapons has been taking place under diplomatic cover.
Ambassador Jamal al Jamal was fatally injured in the blast of a safe at the embassy on January 1. Czech police have ruled out an intentional crime and are investigating the explosion as neglect killing. Palestinian authorities share the view.
An aircraft with Jamal´s remains will depart from Prague on Monday evening, and after a stop-over it will land in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday, Palestinian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Czech Radio.
Jamal´s funeral will take place in Ramallah on Wednesday, he said.
Johana Grohova, spokeswoman for the Czech Foreign Ministry, told CTK that the Palestinians will use a regular flight to transfer Jamal´s body.
Police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova said the police continue to investigate the case. The investigators have been assisted by bomb-disposal and other experts, and further witnesses have been questioned, Zoulova said.
She said the police are examining whether the weapons found have been used to commit a crime in the Czech Republic. The police would not specify their number or type also for tactical reasons, before the questioning of witnesses is completed, Zoulova said.
She said the police are enquiring into how the weapons entered the Czech Republic.
An unnamed expert told CTK that the weapons might have been bought, legally or illegally, in the Czech Republic, or they may have been formerly owned by the 1989 communist forces or may have been imported. It depends on their acquisition date, the expert said.
He said the weapons may also have theoretically come to the Czech Republic via diplomatic mail, which is not checked based on the relevant law.
In reaction to the accident, the Prague 6-Suchdol neighbourhood on Friday asked the Foreign Ministry to move the Palestinian embassy away from Suchdol. Local councillors said they mind weapons and explosives being illegally kept at the embassy.
The ministry said it shares Suchdol´s apprehensions.