Prague embassy explosion: Safe that blew up, killing Palestinian ambassador Jamal al-Jamal, didn't have anti-burglar booby-trap, say staff

 

The mystery surrounding a New Year’s Day blast that killed the Palestinian ambassador to Prague as he opened a safe at his residence deepened on Thursday as police confirmed they had found weapons at his embassy and staff denied reports that the safe had an explosive anti-burglar device, which had been mistakenly detonated.

The ambassador, 56-year-old Jamal al-Jamal, suffered injuries to his head, chest and stomach when opened a safe at his Prague residence on Wednesday. No one claimed responsibility for the blast. Police initially ruled out foul play and concluded that he had inadvertently detonated what they assumed was the safe’s in-built security system.

The diplomat was put in a medically induced coma on arrival at Prague’s military hospital but despite receiving emergency surgery doctors were unable to save him. “We do not have a single indication that this could be a terrorist attack,” Czech police president Martin Cervicek said after an initial investigation at the scene of the blast. On Thursday, however, police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova confirmed that officers had discovered weapons inside the embassy building although she refused to disclose what sort they were.

The embassy appeared to directly contradict the police version of events when Nabil el Fahel, the embassy’s spokesman, said that according to his information the safe was not equipped with any explosive booby trap. “None of us knew there was any device like that,” he said. “The safe was being used almost daily for depositing money. It was used for salaries of embassy staff and for buying items for daily operations.”

Mr Fahel also appeared to refute claims by the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki who said on Wednesday that the safe had not been opened in at least 20 years. He said it had recently been moved from an old embassy building to its present location, which seemed to link the safe to a former Palestine Liberation Organisation Mission in Prague in the 1980s.

The new evidence emerging on Thursday seemed likely to renew speculation that the blast was a deliberate and possibly politically motivated attack. Czech police said that they were trying to identify the type of explosive that caused the blast and that they wanted to know why such material was being kept in a safe at the ambassador’s residence. They said the investigation could take several days. Investigators said some safes can be fitted with small charges that are designed to destroy confidential documents held inside if any attempt is made to break open the lock. However, safe-security experts were quoted on Thursday as saying that it was highly unlikely such devices would generate a blast strong enough to kill a person.

Czech police said that they still had no evidence confirming that Jamal al-Jamal had been the victim of any crime. The Reuters news agency quoted the former Czech military intelligence chief, Andor Sandor, as saying that the information currently available indicated that the blast was either an accident or privately rather than politically motivated.

Palestinian officials were reported to have been in contact with the Czech authorities and a Palestinian delegation was on Thursday on its way to Prague to visit the scene.

In a statement Palestinian Foreign Minister al-Malki described Mr Jamal as a “successful diplomat who was diligent in serving his country and his cause”.

Mr Jamal had only taken up his post in October. The mission said his family had been in the process of moving in to the ambassador’s residence when the blast occurred.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballIt's not a game to lose, writes Paul Scholes
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes