Palestinians: Weapons Found at Czech Embassy Were Legal

Senior diplomat says weapons discovered where a booby-trapped safe killed the ambassador were licensed or gifts.

A senior Palestinian diplomat is denying that weapons discovered at the Palestinian Embassy complex in Prague, where a booby-trapped safe killed the ambassador, were illegal.

Following last Wednesday's blast, Czech police said they found an unspecified cache of weapons. The explosion has led to a deterioration in ties between the Palestinians and the Czech Republic.

In a radio interview from Prague on Sunday, the deputy Palestinian foreign minister, Taysir Jaradat, said the weapons had been with the embassy for years, and had either been licensed or received as gifts. He said none were in use.

During the Cold War, the Palestine Liberation Organization had strong ties with eastern bloc countries.

Czech police said that 12 illegal weapons had been found at the Palestinian embassy complex.

Ambassador Jamal al-Jamal, 56, was killed on Wednesday when a safe in the embassy exploded. The career diplomat had only started his posting in October.

Jaradat said on Sunday he had discussed the weapons with his Czech counterpart. "We told them 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," he told Voice of Palestine radio station. "They are not in use."

It remains unclear what caused the safe to explode, but the ambassador's death is being investigated as a case of negligence. Residents in the Suchdol district, where the new embassy complex is based, have lodged security concerns over the incident.