Sunday, October 26, 2008

Czech entomologist freed himself in India

Six weeks ago or so, we mentioned the
lawsuit against two Czech entomologists in India.
They were collecting beetles in India. After very confusing legal proceedings, the more famous scientist, Dr Petr Švácha (left - a typical pure scientist, isn't he?), was ordered to pay a fine and released while his amateur assistant, Mr Emil Kučera (right - a practically oriented man, right?), was sentenced to three years of prison as well as to pay a fine.

Švácha publishes a lot while Kučera doesn't. Nevertheless, about 30 species are even named after Kučera.

Happily enough, Švácha should be released soon while Kučera is already back to Czechia. Mr Emil Kučera has used the general chaos in India and before a new wave of legal proceedings (he appealed, of course), he escaped from the legally unpredictable district: see DPA. Congratulations!

If you want to know more details, here are some comments from a recent interview.

He has contacted his girlfriend in Czechia and asked her for contacts in India, a credit card, plus his second legally held passport. ;-) After four kilometers in a Jeep, he spent two hours by getting into Nepal. Again a Jeep, and a bus, and a fine in Nepal for being there without visas. :-) Finally, he legally received the Nepali visas, after some discussions and 2,000 rupees (= USD 40) in bribes (an online interview with readers), and bought an air ticket to Bangkok, Frankfurt, and Prague from a travel agency. That's what I call transparency. :-)

Kučera says a lot of scary things - e.g. no one has come to some proceedings in the court at all. Later, they told him that even if he were freed, he would have to wait at least until February 2009 to get his passport etc. He couldn't accept that. On the other hand, the fellow prisoners etc. were nice to them. They genuinely violated the 2002 Biodiversity Act - banning any collection of some insect. They didn't know about this act. They argue that they haven't violated the Wildlife Act from the 1970s that protects the reservations - where they have never been at all.

He wrote the following letter:
Dear friends,

because it's been quite some time since I began to feel that Darjeeling District is not able to guarantee my right for a fair trial, I decided to solve the difficult situation by a graceful exit of mine. At this moment, I am already on the territory of the Czech Republic.

During the whole trial, beginning with my arrest and imprisonment and ending with the protractions by the Indian authorities, the situation has made me very psychologically tired, and that's why I chose this solution after Dr Petr Švácha left Darjeeling.

I know that all of you were watching the evolution of this absurd trial and I hope that you will understand the reasons behind my decision.

I apologize for the problems that my steps may bring to the Czech ministry of foreign affairs and the Czech Embassy in India. At the same moment, I am thankful to them for all the help that they have brought both to me and Dr Petr Švácha during this difficult period. Also, I thank to all of you who have supported us, either by the petition, or your presence at the rallies, or otherwise.

Emil Kučera
In India, the scientists had to accept that local legal standards, the local degree of fairness, and their characteristic speed of the courts. But once they're back in the Czech Republic, they will be treated according to ours. ;-)

Of course, India may still send a few nukes to the Czech territory in order to revenge for the research of the longhorn beetles. Good luck.

The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg, congratulated Kučera for being able to do something of the sort, too. ;-) When asked whether he was afraid that our relationships with India would be damaged, Schwarzenberg said that the most important thing for him is that Kučera is already doing fine.

What does the attorney do?

BBC informed about a rather extraordinary detail in the subsequent developments. Someone is going to appeal to the court that an arrest warrant is issued against Emil Kučera. That could sound like an ordinary story because Kučera clearly had to violate some laws when leaving India - except that the guy who is actively struggling for Kučera's arrest is his own "attorney", Mr Taranga Pandit. That's pretty strong a cup of coffee.

Haven't our Indian friends learned that attorneys should defend their clients instead of conspire with the prosecution? Kučera has been saying that something was seriously wrong about the attorney but I didn't expect his words to be proven so explicitly and so soon.

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