Vietnamese denounce excessive force in Czech market raid

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Around 90 Vietnamese students in and around the Czech Republic on Monday filed complaints against police using "unnecessary force" in inspecting a Vietnamese market in Prague last week.

Prague's Customs Manager Radek Kurka said police conducted a normal inspection to verify the origins and copyrights of goods as well as the residency status of Vietnamese vendors at SAPA market.

Czech news agency CKT, however, reported that students said police used "excessive force" when opening cargo containers and combing through sales booths and treating sellers "inhumanely" despite their intentions to cooperate.

Some 1,000 police officials and inspectors participated in the raid last Saturday, said CKT, adding that a helicopter, an armored car and scout dogs were also present at the scene.

Students who filed complaints said they saw law enforcement authorities pointing guns directly at market vendors and workers upon entering the vicinity.

Katerina Rendlova, spokesperson of Czech Republic's police unit dealing with foreigners, said authorities questioned 44 Vietnamese at the market, detained seven for not having identity cards and seized 10 tons of goods mostly footwear and clothes suspected to be counterfeit.

Rendlova admitted that 30 Vietnamese children were kept out in the cold from attending classes during the proceedings but that police had justified reasons to do so. She also stressed that similar types of action will be taken in future inspections.

Occurring on a day when the venue is most crowded, many vendors face major losses in addition to the recent US$5 million in damages incurred from a fire at the market warehouse on November 6.

In related news, police, market inspectors and customs officers also conducted an inspection at Holesovice Market in Prague last Saturday, where many people of Vietnamese descent do business.

Reported by T.M

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