Police pointed to the first suspect, but key issues remain • RESPECT

Three-quarters of a year after an unknown perpetrator poisoned thirty kilometers of the Moravian river Bečva and killed tens of tons of fish, the police accused the first person and also a private company in this case. According to Hospodářské noviny, Oldřich Havelka, the director of Energoaqua, which operates a wastewater treatment plant in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm discharging water into Bečva through a several-kilometer-long underground canal leading from the industrial area of ​​the former Rožnov Tesla, is prosecuting this case. On the contrary, according to the police, the culprit is not the Deza company based in Valašské Meziříčí, which belongs to the Agrofert empire associated with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

According to a police spokesman, the key basis for initiating criminal prosecution is an expert opinion prepared by forensic expert Jiří Klicpera. At the same time, he has repeated to the media several times since February this year that Deza is not the culprit of poisoning, and on the contrary indicated that deadly cyanides had escaped to Bečva through a channel from the Rožnov treatment plant of the Energoaqua company. The current police indictment is thus taking the case to the next stage, which will most likely include a trial, but does not bring new and surprising information to the case.

The police are therefore prosecuting Energoaqua, but key and unanswered questions remain. The main one is: If cyanides escaped from Rožnov through a canal leading to Bečva in the part of Valašské Meziříčí called Juřinka, how is it possible that the first fish began to die up to 3.5 kilometers and several weirs lower downstream – and that traces of poison or dead fish could not be found even in the blind branches of the river? The applicant is likely to argue that excessive cyanides were measured directly below that discharge, but that their concentration was not sufficient to kill 40 tonnes of fish.

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Also read: Something has leaked again

We will probably also finally find out what the experiments with the green dye, which the police poured into Bečva during the investigation, revealed how the liquid substance behaves in the river and whether in such a case it spreads and mixes across the entire width of the river. The question, however, is whether this rather circumstantial evidence will be sufficient in court to dispel the doubts of the local population, which are considerable.

Fishermen, who discovered dead fish in the river on the fateful day of September 20 and were the first to report an ecological catastrophe, usually do not believe this version, precisely because it killed poison only downstream, and vice versa in close proximity to Deza. “If dangerous substances came out of the Rožnov outlet, the fish would have to die immediately below it. The repeated statements of the Klicpera expert ordered by the police are completely untrustworthy to me. The source of the leak is somewhere else, “Stanislav Pernický told the daily Právo in May this year, who took samples from Bečva on the day of the accident and handed them over to the water authority in Hranice na Moravě.

Other local fishermen, who are looking for a source more at the outlets around the village of Lhotka, express themselves in a similar way. However, what has so far leaked into the media from a forensic expert and other experts shows that there are no usable samples from these sites on the day of the cyanide spill immediately after the poisoning. Fishermen are also bothered by other things – for example, they complained that the Czech Environmental Inspectorate did not arrive at the site until several hours later.

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Police have recently reported that two crimes have been committed in the case, namely damage to and threats to the environment and unauthorized handling of protected wildlife. “A natural person faces up to five years in prison, a legal person a ban on activities and a fine,” police spokesman Petr Jaroš told ČTK. However, the question is whether the police will be able to convict the perpetrator.

We will find out in court what evidence he has and whether they are convincing.