State terrorism in Laos - two Czech citizens shot by soldiers

Lao Houn Mai have exclusively gathered full details of a serious premeditated act of state terrorism committed by the Vietnamese military occupying forces in Laos against two innocent and unsuspecting Czech civilians in May this year. The two Czechs who were father and son, were lured to a remote site in the mountains directly opposite a 12.7mm cannon manned by Vietnamese soldiers. The son Stanislav Becvar was shot by the soldiers without warning using the 12.7mm gun by the side of Route 13, and seriously wounded. The two men were able to reach the edge of the road, and then the father was shot in the chest, again using the 12.7mm gun, and fell down onto the road. A moment later two soldiers standing in front of him on the road shot him in the forehead at point blank range instantly killing him. The younger Becvar managed to hide in bushes until a passing vehicle came along the road. He was then held in detention for two weeks, and was blackmailed by the Interior Ministry to sign a statement claiming that he had been shot by bandits. He was warned that if he did not sign the statement he would be accused of espionage and would be jailed for many years. For a time the Interior Ministry even tried to claim that the two Czechs attacked soldiers with knives, but later retracted this claim; nevertheless Lao Houn Mai have a copy of a fabricated statement which proves that the Interior Ministry were trying to maintain this absurd story. Lao Houn Mai have also been able to obtain an internal Interior Ministry video of the official investigation in which soldiers explain how they shot the two Czechs from their military camp using the 12.7mm weapon. The soldiers explain how they assembled a force of armed soldiers to attack the two Czechs, and shot at the Czech civilians without warning. They then extravagantly and theatrically claim that the two Czech tourists - one seriously wounded from the 12.7mm gunshot and both carrying 30kg rucksacks - then chased the well armed soldiers with only knives and the well armed soldiers ran in terror. The knives were also shown - a small pocket sized camping knife and a 5 inch handsaw. Lao Houn Mai have documentary evidence of the chameleon-like changes in the version of events given by the Vientiane authorities.

The two Czechs were on the road between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, a route plagued by violent attacks ever since the first ethnic genocide committed by Vietnamese troops in the area in 1976. The area is the site of Vietnamese military installations, and is also regularly used by the State for trading in narcotics; although the area is not officially a restricted zone and is not closed to foreign tourists, the Vietnamese military have for years maintained a policy of terrorist attacks against civilians in order to discourage people from using the route. Whilst most victims have been locals, a substantial number of foreigners have died in the attacks committed by the Vietnamese military.

Father and son and both with the same name Stanislav Becvar, they arrived in Laos on the 14th May after they had obtained a 2 week visa in Bangkok. They were both professional entomologists, and wanted to collect specimens of certain wild beetles. Having arrived in Vientiane they immediately travelled to Vang Vieng, a small town just north of Vientiane, where they stayed for two nights in the Phou Ban Guesthouse. They wanted to travel further north, and sought local information on the current security situation. They had with them a Lonely Planet guide book which claimed the road was in poor condition (actually no longer true) and that there had been many violent incidents on the route, advising travellers to seek local information on the current conditions. The guide claimed that the road was expected to be guarded by the army after it had been repaired. The Czechs spoke to a local resident who was fluent in Russian, and also to the manager of their guest house, both of whom assured them that the route was perfectly safe and that no incidents had occurred for a long time, and that there were regular bus connections through the area. They also spoke to an Australian traveller who claimed that there were no longer any problems in the region. This is in reality completely untrue - there have been many violent attacks in the last year, but news of all these attacks has been suppressed by both the Vientiane government and by the foreign diplomatic community.

The Russian-speaking local resident, who had approached the Czechs unprompted, was an agent for the regime and sought to lure the two tourists into a trap. Vang Vieng is the site of a major Vietnamese training school for secret agents, and as the boundary zone between the communist power centre in Vientiane and the wilds of the Phou Khoun district fraught with narcotics trading and security problems Vang Vieng has long been a district with substantial activity of secret agents. Having determined that the two tourists were keen to be close to nature and that they had a tent with them he saw that he had an opportunity to lead them to their deaths in a remote area and blame the killings on rebel forces. He enthusiastically encouraged them to travel on the road between Kasi and Luang Prabang, persuasively dismissing their concerns about security. He assured them that there had been no incidents on the road for several years, that it was guarded by the army, and that it was now perfectly safe. His claim that the road was secure was not based on a mistaken belief - it is well known by all the locals within the region that there have been constant shootings and even mortar attacks on the stretch of road between Kasi and Phou Khoun. His claim that the road was safe and that there had been no incidents for several years was intended to deliberately lure the two tourists to their deaths. He told the two Czechs that the area was very beautiful, forested, and ideal for collecting insects, and encouraged them to go and collect beetles there.

On 16th May the two Czechs travelled to Kasi, and at one oíclock continued on the bus from Kasi to Luang Prabang with the intention of stopping at Xieng Ngeun, a village 25km south of Luang Prabang. The bus stopped at a little military outpost on the outskirts of Kasi, where soldiers instructed the bus to stop the vehicle at a stream at Km 9 just before Phou Khoun - the trap set up for the Czechs. The fare for a foreigner from Kasi to Xieng Ngeun would normally be in the region of 5500 Kip, and even the fare for Lao travellers should be 4000 Kip. Yet the bus driver charged the two Czechs only 3000 Kip each, the fare from Kasi to Phou Khoun, as though knowing that they were to get off the bus before their stated destination of Xieng Ngeun. It was as though it had never occurred to the authorities that although they expected the two tourists to be lured into a trap just before Phou Khoun, the tourists themselves were at that stage planning to go as far as Xieng Ngeun not Phou Khoun, leading them to charge the wrong fare.

The two Czechs found that contrary to the description given in their guide the road was in excellent condition, and as the Russian speaking agent had said was guarded with many soldiers along its length; there were no signs of any travel restrictions or roadblocks. They therefore decided to find a suitable peaceful location in which to camp for a night in the open close to nature, and also to collect beetle specimens at night using a torch. Shortly before 3pm the bus stopped at a small stream and several passengers got off to drink water. The two Czechs decided to take advantage of the stop to disembark, since they were impressed with the natural scenic beauty. According to early reports received by the Lao Houn Mai from the US State Department, the two Czechs had been repeatedly warned by many people including the driver of the bus that the area was dangerous and that they should not get off. Careful enquiries have shown that this claim is completely false, and appears to be deliberate misinformation given by the Vientiane regime. The bus passengers were friendly and inquisitive, and asked why they were getting off and how they would get back; the Czechs replied that they wanted to take photographs and would find a passing car to take them back to Kasi.

The location that the bus had stopped was at Km 9 just before Phou Khoun, directly opposite a 12.7mm cannon mounted on a small hill with excellent coverage of a long stretch of the road and the hillside just above the road. The location also offers by far the most stunningly beautiful panoramic views available on the entire journey between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, with the most outstanding views of lush green vegetation and ragged mountains stretching to the south towards Kasi. The visibility at this time of year is exceptionally good, and from this location at a height of 1300 meters above sea level and virtually at the crest of the mountain, the mountains can be seen falling sharply away towards the surrounding countryside 1000 meters below, with a line of mountain peaks reaching out from the main peak on which the two Czechs found themselves. A large expanse of natural countryside can be seen below the mountains, with further ranges of mountains visible in the distance on two sides. It is difficult to imagine a more beautiful spot, and the Vietnamese agent had known well that the two Czechs would immediately fall in love with this location, as other victims had before them. The trap was set.

The two men climbed up the hillside above the road; a point some distance above the road gave them a good view of the area, and they made up their minds to pitch their tent in this area and spend the night there. They spent some time looking around, and eventually pitched their tent and had dinner. Shortly before 8pm while the elder Becvar remained at the camp his son took a torch and went to look for beetles in the trees nearby - this is the optimum method for collecting the types of beetle he was interested in. At 9.30pm while he was about 100 to 150m from the camp he heard a loud gunshot, from some distance away. He immediately extinguished his torch and returned quietly to the camp where he discussed the shot with his father. They decided that it was probably just a local hunter, and both went to bed. They had made many similar trips to the region including Vietnam, Thailand, China and Pakistan, and had had similar experiences of local hunters in China, Thailand and Pakistan. In the morning they got up at 6am, and had a very leisurely breakfast. They were enjoying their environment and were completely without any worries about their safety. The night had been warm and dry, and the visibility was excellent even at 6am, with no signs of fog at this time of year. They packed all their things, and started moving down to the road to get back to Vang Vieng. They stopped on an area of open grass overlooking the road to get out an entomological net, planning to look for more insects on the way down. Visibility at this moment was about 50 km.

Suddenly at 9am just as they were about to go there were four gun shots within a few seconds from an unseen location to their left, and the younger Becvar was hit. A bullet had gone through the muscle of his left arm, through his chest, and out of the other side. The bullet had broken his 5th and 6th ribs which had deflected the path of the bullet through about 90 degrees; it then went through his lungs and out through his shoulder blade, lodging in the tent packed in his rucksack. According to medical reports the original path of the bullet had been close to his heart and spine, and he was very lucky to survive. The elder Becvar was not hit by the shots at this time. They had not seen the attackers, and had had no warning. At the time they were in open grassland with grass up to 1m high in places, and managed to move rapidly to nearby cover some 100m away where there were dense bushes and longer grass.

They had been shot by the 12.7mm cannon from a distance of around half a kilometre, and the soldiers believed that the younger Becvar had been killed at this point; owing to the distance of the gun from their targets and the vegetation cover they were unable to take another shot at the elder Becvar until he reached the roadside, and apparently did not see that his son was still with him. The elder Becvar was carrying a 25kg rucksack while his son had been carrying a 30kg rucksack. Initially the elder Becvar dragged his sonís backpack along the ground, crushing the dense tall grass and making a path for his son. Eventually the sonís backpack was ditched, as it was too much for the elder Becvar to manage on his own. They rested a little, and struggled on to the roadside. The younger Becvar had trouble breathing as a result of blood in his lungs. At just before 10am they reached a point some 7 meters vertically above the roadside, with an almost shear drop. The elder Becvar started to descend, while his son rested exhausted in the bushes at the edge of the drop 5 meters behind him. He was afraid his father would fall with the heavy backpack, and told his father to drop his backpack onto the road. His father paused and dropped his backpack onto the road. Just at this instant the 12.7mm gun again burst into fire and the elder Becvar was hit in the chest, in the heart area. His son heard a brief cry and saw blood on the left side of his fatherís back, and his father fell down onto the road. A moment later he saw an armed soldier running on the road. Sure that the killers would come looking for him he edged further back into the bushes, out of sight of the road.

At this point the elder Becvar although injured was still alive, and leaning against the steep slope. Within 5 minutes two soldiers came onto the road close by, and the younger Becvar could hear them talking. They approached his father and shot him in the centre of the forehead at point blank range, killing him instantly with a single shot. They then shot their guns into the air for about half a minute, in order to give the impression that there were two different parties were shooting at each other and to give ambiguity to any locals who might hear the gunshots. The murder took place at a grid reference point 19į23í15" North and 102į26í0" East at an altitude of 1300 meters, 9 km by road from Phou Khoun village.

Becvar was still hiding in the undergrowth directly above the road, and was sure that the soldiers would come and look for him, but they did not do so. Over the next 80 minutes he heard about 10 cars pass, mostly coming from the north, but the cars did not stop. At first he thought his fatherís body must have been removed, but when he edged out far enough to see he found that his fatherís body was still there - the soldiers had been waiting on the road, waving on each passing car and not allowing them to stop.

Finally a slow moving vehicle came the other way from Kasi, and he used this as an opportunity to come out of hiding, signalling to the car to stop, which it did about 70 meters away - this probably saved his life. As he struggled to stand up and started down the steep slope two soldiers on the road dressed in camouflage uniforms pointed their guns at him. He shouted at the car, calling for help. He went towards his fatherís body, and spent some time by his side. The two soldiers stood in the shadows some distance away, while several lorries and a motorbike passed. After about 20 minutes (about 11.40am) he was picked up by a lorry and taken to a very crude clinic at Phou Khoun village where his wound was dressed by Dr Phetsamone Vongphaseuth.

Becvarís fatherís body was left by the roadside until nightfall of the 17th May, under the guard of the soldiers. Whilst this would seem very strange to Western observers the whole purpose of the killing had been as a signal to others - to be blamed on rebel forces for those who were prepared to believe this, and for those who did not believe to serve as a warning that the same could happen to them - an ambiguous unspoken threat. At this stage the regime still planned to murder Becvar if they could get away with it, but leaving the body of his father by the roadside turned out to be their biggest mistake. The bus from Luang Prabang to Vientiane passed in the late afternoon, and an American nurse on that bus saw the body by the roadside in the jurisdiction of the soldiers. She was visiting Laos as a tourist, and as soon as she arrived in Vientiane she immediately went to the American Embassy to report the incident. The American Ambassador alerted the Czech Ambassador in Bangkok who immediately came to Vientiane.

Despite being seriously injured the younger Becvar was not given proper medical attention. Both he and his father had medical insurance of US$25,000 each, and could have been taken out easily by car or by helicopter, but was not taken to any proper hospital for 76 hours and received no antibiotics for 7 days, despite problems breathing because of blood in his lungs. His doctor in the Czech Republic has described it as a miracle that he survived without serious complications. He spent the first night in the clinic at Phou Khoun, where the staff were helpful and attentive, although they had had virtually no serious medical training, medicines or equipment. However the second night he was under police guard and was given no assistance all night despite being in considerable pain and having difficulty in breathing.

On the 19th May a team of officials from the Interior Ministry arrived in Phou Khoun to question Becvar, to collect evidence and to fabricate evidence against him. The team was led by Malaithong, deputy head of the Immigration Office, and a known international terrorist involved in dozens of terrorist outrages against foreign nationals in Laos and extortion rackets. After interviewing soldiers at the site of the murder and Becvar in the clinic, at 5pm they took Becvar to Vientiane by MY8 military helicopter. For the following two weeks he was kept prisoner in the Immigration Office opposite the morning market, locked for much of the time in a small room on the 4th floor.

Becvar understandably wanted his fatherís body to be flown home to receive a proper funeral ceremony in the Czech Republic. He had telephoned his insurers who had confirmed that there was no problem in covering this under the $25,000 insurance held by both Czechs. However the Vietnamese army was anxious to prevent this at all costs. An independent autopsy on the body would confirm details of the cause of death and their wounds, and pin the regime down to a specific explanation of why they had shot the two Czechs using a large calibre gun at long range, and why they had shot the elder Becvar in the forehead at point blank range following a chest wound from the 12.7mm cannon. An autopsy would also have confirmed that that the neck had not been broken, proving beyond doubt that the regimeís claim that he had died as a result of a fall of 30 metres into a ravine was a fabrication. It is therefore not surprising that the regime was unwilling to release the body. They knew however that they would be unable to justify holding onto the body indefinitely, and so engaged in an elaborate subterfuge to force the younger Becvar to agree to a cremation of the body in Laos before any foreign authorities could gain access to the body. They knew that if they held on to the body for too long the international community would demand access to the body to verify the nature of the wounds and the cause of death, and so they employed a number of strategies to hasten the decay of the body and increase the pressure on the younger Becvar to agree to a cremation. Throughout this period the authorities clearly had to deny all foreign access to the younger Becvar, and in diplomatic channels maintained a complete denial of the existence of the younger Becvar in response to repeated demands for information about the death of his father despite constant and unanimous pressure from the diplomatic community for information.

Medical sources from Laos have confirmed that under normal circumstances and bearing into consideration the climate, local infrastructure and local practises, even with a bare minimum of precautions a human body would not seriously decompose within a period of 96 hours; the facial tissues in particular would take considerably longer to destroy. Yet by the time Becvar next saw his fatherís body 96 hours after the murder the body was in a very serious state of decomposition and the face was completely destroyed. The whole of the corpse was thickly infested with maggots at an advanced stage of maturity, and consideration of the time taken by the hatching of fly eggs and development into mature maggots necessarily implies that the maggots were artificially introduced to the corpse from other sources in order to considerably hasten decomposition. Maggots hatching naturally from eggs laid by flies on the corpse could not have achieved such an advanced stage of development in such a short period of time.

In response to the concerns of Becvar about his fatherís body Malaithong and the representative from the Foreign Ministry Suthep Thevy repeatedly claimed that the body was stored frozen in cold storage, and that there was only a problem of smell and transport. On the 20th May however they produced an official statement claiming that the cause of death was a fall of 30m into a ravine, and that the body had been washed and stored in a cold room. The Malaithong wanted to have the body cremated quickly, but Becvar refused, saying that his father must be sent back to the Czech Republic to be buried there; he telephoned his insurers who confirmed there was no problem about covering the cost of sending the body home, but Malaithong would not allow it to go.

Eventually the body was shown to Becvar in Vientiane on the 21st May, 96 hours after the murder. The body had been kept in hot open conditions, and was in a terrible state heavily infested with maggots. The face was completely destroyed. The body was completely unrecognisable except for the clothes and the feet, and Becvar was reluctantly forced to give permission for the body to be cremated. In contrast to the authoritiesí claims that the body had been kept in cold storage the body was not cold and the maggots were highly active. There were two recently added lumps of ice in the wooden box containing the body. The advanced stage of development of the maggots proves conclusively that the state of decomposition of the body was artificially advanced in order to coerce Becvar to allow prompt cremation and consequent destruction of incriminating evidence before allowing consular access to Becvar. Had Becvar been allowed consular access before the cremation he would have been able to insist on independent examination of his fatherís body.

It was after being taken to Vientiane that the real pressure was put on Becvar to sign a fabricated statement. Becvar was told that he had to cooperate, and if he refused to sign the statement he would be accused of espionage and would never be able to leave Laos. At about 10.30pm on the 19th May a policeman came into his cell pretending to check his heart condition but without offering him any medical assistance. Then at midnight just as he was trying to sleep 6 police officers entered his cell. They offered him vitamins and paracetamol, and claimed they were worried about him as it was his first night in the jail. They confiscated two small knives and other similar items, and they produced a piece of paper which they asked him to sign as a receipt, because they only wanted to take his possessions away temporarily not permanently as they were worried about him. The sheet of paper was almost blank, with just a few words written on it in Lao, including a list of four items which the officers claimed were the items confiscated. It was late at night, Becvar was injured and tired, and he signed the piece of paper without concern. In reality the list of four items was a list of signatures under the heading "Witnesses", and above Becvarís signature was the heading "Informant". The next time Becvar saw this sheet of paper on 2nd June it was stapled to another piece of paper with a full page of writing in Lao - allegedly a statement by Becvar written in Lao! On that day Malaithong told the Czech Consul that Becvar had made an admission of guilt, and showed her the statement. The "statement" alleged that Becvar had attacked soldiers with knives. (In the video recorded by the Interior Ministry on the 19th May the officers also claimed that the two Czechs had chased and attacked a well armed contingent of soldiers with their two pocket knives).

Following the signing of the alleged list of items confiscated at midnight on 19th May Becvar was under pressure to sign a statement in English claiming that after he was wounded in the first shooting he and his father took out knives and attacked and chased the "bandits" into the forest. The statement also alleged that Becvar accepted he had entered without permission a "restricted area" - i.e. the main road between the capital Vientiane and the old royal capital of Luang Prabang - and that the cause of his fatherís death was that he had fallen down a 30 meter ravine. Becvar repeatedly refused to sign the statement, and tried without success to insist that Malaithong change the wording of the statement. Pressure was substantially increased on Becvar after 21st May. Throughout this time Becvar was constantly told by Malaithong that unless he signed the statement he would be accused of espionage, and then he would never be able to leave Laos. The regime did not deny that it was the army which shot Becvar, but until 2nd June they refused to include it in Becvarís statement, claiming instead that Becvar was shot by bandits. From 2nd June onwards the statement admitted that Becvar was shot by the army.

For a week the Czech Ambassador was unable to see Becvar, and the Vientiane regime tried to deny his existence or the murder of his father, believing that the diplomatic community would accept the incident as they had accepted so many other terrorist incidents. The Czech Ambassador prevailed upon the Cuban Ambassador for assistance, and when it became clear that the entire diplomatic community was united in opposition the Vientiane regime eventually relented on 24th May and allowed the Ambassador and Consul to see Becvar. His first visit to Laos, the Czech Ambassador Dr Becka was shocked by the disrespectful and uncivilised behaviour of the Interior Ministry. He demanded that Becvar be released, but the Interior Ministry refused even to confirm in writing that Becvar was in Laos. The Czech Consul Miss Chaloupek advised Becvar that it was common practice for the Vientiane regime to accuse innocent foreigners of espionage after such terrorist incidents, and urged him to sign the statement. The first explanation of the incident given to the Czech Ambassador by the regime was that at 9am the mountain was covered in fog (untrue; Phou Khoun is regularly enveloped in fog in winter, but not in mid May which is the hot season. On the 17th May visibility at Phou Khoun was 50 km from 6am onwards, and at 9am the temperature was 25įC after a warm dry night). Later their explanation made no mention of fog but claimed the two men had attacked soldiers with knives, and that Becvar had confessed. Becvar had considered running to the US Embassy, but the Consul later responded apparently after consulting with them that the US Embassy could not be of any assistance since "they could not interfere with the legal process". That an embassy can categorise such blatant terrorist activity as a proper legal process is a reflection of the policies of the diplomatic community in Laos.

On 2nd June the Czech Consul again visited Becvar in Vientiane, and Malaithong fabricated evidence to try to claim that Becvar was a big liar and was constantly changing his reports - a typical ploy of the Vientiane regime for undermining their opponents. However Lao Houn Mai has a copy of both the final statement signed by Becvar under duress on 4th June 1997 as a condition of his release and a draft statement which he was asked to sign in late May - the draft report was heavily marked with Becvarís corrections, yet the final statement signed under duress as a condition of his release was virtually unchanged from the original manuscript apart from the deletion of the claim that Becvar had attacked the soldiers with knives and an additional 5 minor amendments. By comparison the Lao statement attributed to Becvar but never signed by him bears 12 deletions and insertions or amendments and not a single signature except on an entirely separate and otherwise blank sheet. The evidence given by officers in the Interior Ministry video in the possession of Lao Houn Mai and the alleged Lao statement provide further evidence of the constant changing of the official version of the Vientiane regime and conclusive evidence of the unqualified guilt of the Vientiane regime in this outrageous terrorist attack on two innocent civilians.

The available evidence appears to show that the eventual release of Becvar was made in accordance with a contract signed between the Czech and Lao governments. The efforts of Malaithong on the 2nd June to claim that Becvar was a liar and was constantly changing his story appear to be a negotiating ploy in the terms of his release, and it is known that a contract was agreed between the Czech Consul and the Lao Foreign Ministry on the morning of the 3rd June and signed on the 3rd or 4th. It seems probable that the terms of the contract included a ransom payment by the Czech government, or more likely a cancellation of Lao debts to the Czech Republic, conditional on the release of Becvar. It is certain that the terms of the contract included terms relating to the "evidence" claimed by the Lao government concerning the Becvar incident and the confessions that they claimed he had made although Chaloupek refuted that the Lao statement had been signed by Becvar since the signature was on a separate sheet and Becvar could not read Lao.

Following the agreement reached on the 3rd June preparations were made for the planned release of Becvar the following morning. Becvar agreed that he would be prepared to sign the English language statement (despite disagreeing with it in major respects) subject to the return of his possessions and the provision of certain documentary evidence demanded by Becvar including a copy of an Interior Ministry video. Flights were booked and by the morning of the 4th all was set for the release. Becvar said he would sign the English statement at the last minute before departure, since he did not trust the regime to abide by the agreement. At this point Malaithong suddenly said that Becvar could not go home, because the Czechs had to complete a contract with the Lao government. The contract would take many days to complete and nobody knew how long it would take. Becvar would have to cancel his flight, or else he could sign the statement and he would be able to go home on that day.

Becvar claimed that Chaloupek knew nothing about this contract and that it was just a trick by Malaithong to force him to sign the statement, but it seems more likely that both the Czech Embassy and Malaithong were coercing Becvar to sign the statement as the terms of the contract signed by Chaloupek required that Becvar must have already signed a "confession" - probably Chaloupek refused to sign the contract unless a confession was produced. If the Czech Republic was to sign a contract cancelling substantial Lao debts with a terrorist regime as ransom for the release of a Czech hostage then the political implications could be rather serious; it would look much better from the point of view of Czech foreign policy if the Czech government was agreeing to cancel debts in exchange for the release on humanitarian grounds of a supposedly genuine and confessed offender.

This interpretation appears to be supported by the subsequent conduct of the Czech Foreign Ministry in relation to this case. Before and shortly after Becvarís release the Czech Foreign Ministry repeatedly assured him that they would help him obtain a proper accounting of the murder of his father, yet once he reached home the Czech Foreign Ministry refused to cooperate further. They even advised him to return to Vientiane and seek a local lawyer, an action which would manifestly have put his life again at serious risk and with no possibility whatsoever of obtaining justice since the terrorist regime in Laos does not recognise any law. Until Lao Houn Mai published news of the incident in the first issue of the Journal the incident had not been published anywhere in the world. Following publication by Lao Houn Mai of a brief account the Czech newspapers took up the story and for several days gave it substantial coverage throughout the printed and TV media which led to progressively wider release of details. Within 3 days of the initial publication by Lao Houn Mai Czech television had managed to locate and contact Becvar himself who confirmed the account provided by Lao Houn Mai and filled in further details. In this process of gradually unfolding the evidence the initial role of the Czech Foreign Ministry was characterised by denial of the facts. When the Czech news agency first contacted the Foreign Ministry in Prague the story was denied, while the Czech Embassy in Bangkok confirmed that an incident of a violent nature had taken place while declining to confirm the details. The following day after publication throughout the Czech press of a short report Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kurfuerst released an unofficial statement confirming some of the details and releasing some further information; he declined to release the names of the victims. His statement claimed that Becvarís father had died as a result of a fall into a ravine, a claim which was immediately dismissed by Lao Houn Mai in a telephone interview broadcast on Czech television. He also claimed that the two victims had been in a restricted area; both of these facts were known by the Czech Foreign Ministry to be fabricated. The following day Becvar was interviewed on Czech television confirming that this serious terrorist action had been carried out by the army of the Vientiane regime, and that his father had died as a result of gunshot wounds inflicted by the soldiers, not by any fall. Yet Becvarís attempts to seek recompense for the loss of his fatherís life had met with a complete lack of cooperation from the Czech Foreign Ministry since his return to the Czech Republic.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has adopted a similar but even more dishonest policy with respect to the plight of British Citizen Jonathan Brown, who was kidnapped in Laos on 10th August 1996 by exactly the same group of terrorists involved in the Becvar incident. Just as the Czech authorities sought to disguise the impact of the Becvar incident with claims known to be fabricated, the British authorities have put forward a variety of claims all known to be fabricated in order to justify their failure to protect a British citizen from the criminal activities of a foreign power and their failure to assist Mr Brown to reach safety. Exactly as in the Czech case the British authorities have persistently and wholly dishonestly sought to claim that Mr Brown was somehow in the wrong and that his kidnap was a normal part of the Lao legal process with which they could not interfere. Furthermore when Mr Brown started actively campaigning for public recognition of terrorist offences committed by the regime in Laos, abuses of human rights in Laos, and considerable involvement by leaders of the regime in the international trafficking of drugs the British government took the remarkable and contemptible response of using the British secret services to illegally sabotage Mr Brownís legitimate campaign. Despite claims to a policy of respect for human rights and moral justice all the actions taken so far by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook clearly show that the policy is a cynical scam, and that Foreign Policy is determined above all by the narrow interests of the Global Business community rather than by the interests of the Nation as a whole.

It is clear that the diplomatic community in Laos as a whole has to take a considerable measure of responsibility for the death of Becvarís father, both because they had consistently failed to hold the Vientiane regime accountable for their regular terrorist actions and because they suppressed information from the international media on the regular terrorist actions by the regime against foreign nationals leading directly to the deaths in Laos of numerous other foreign nationals in the last few years including Australians, Americans, French, Swiss, Japanese, and many others by instilling a false sense of security. Governments of the developed nations cannot escape culpability for their involvement in this deliberate deception which as always is motivated by investment ambitions and the interests of the multinational corporations investing in rich natural resources.