Respekt is one of the Czech Republic’s most widely, well, respected newspapers. A hard-hitting weekly heavy on investigations, its editor-in-chief, Tomáš Němeček, was brutally attacked on Saturday. Police are still looking for the perpetrators, but are focusing on a mafia ring operating in Northern Bohemia that Respekt has been investigating.

Respekt has a statement up on their website in English. An excerpt:

We live in a post-communist country where the power elite has spoken for years – and increasingly often – of journalists as “muck” or “scum”, where politicians publicly declare their desire to crush troublesome media. In such an atmosphere, an attack of that kind cannot come as a surprise. While politicians use the levers of power to exert pressure, or try to intimidate by endlessly threatening court action, criminals solve their problems with bothersome journalists more directly. The best known case of an attack on a journalist proves that the two worlds are sometimes linked: the murder planned by former Government official Karel Srba to “shut up” Sabina Slonková of the daily newspaper MF Dnes when her articles had come dangerously close to the network of corruption that Srba ran at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Jan Kavan. The suspicion that the attack on Tomáš Němeček is analogous to the Srba case – i.e. an attempt to intimidate his colleagues and other “careless” journalists from other newspapers – is a serious matter. The police should therefore make every effort to ensure this case does not just fade away. All the more so given that one theory for the attack directly concerns the police themselves: the possible involvement of North Bohemian police officers with local gangsters is something that truly provokes fear.

I’d like to pass along wishes for a speedy recovery, and to wish the staff of Respekt nerves of steel and determination to match as they go after the thugs and cowards who think they can get away with crimes like this.

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