Prague - For two Czech entomologists that were detained in India for illegal bug collection, there may be emerging a new hope.
Indian court in Darjeeling decided that the case of Petr Švácha and Emil Kučera will be decided between 25 and 29 August. The scientists believe ruling will be in their favor.
"Even if the final ruling is not that favorable, we will file an appeal with the Calcutta court where chances for success are much higher," Kučera wrote from India.
However, if the entomologists are found guilty, they face three years to seven years in prison.
Waiting for written charge
The court ruled yesterday that the Czechs are to be returned their money confiscated during their arrest by the local foresters. At the same time, it was decided that Švácha and Kučera have to report twice a week at the local police station.
"The charge in writing has not been delivered to them yet. They were only informed verbally about what articles they are charged with," Vladislav Malý from the Czech Entomological Society said to Aktuálně.cz.
Indians breaking the law themselves?
Malý, who is in contact with his colleagues arrested in India, believes they are charged with illegal collection of rare species of insects in a national park. Both men refuse these charges by pointing out it was not possible to indicate they were in a protected landscape area.
They claim there was some logging going on and cows were feeding on grass nearby.
"If they really were there, the charge has to prove it. On top of that, any national park has to be visibly marked, which looks like it wasn't in this case. So it appears like the Indians violated the law, not the Czechs," claims Malý.
Czechs also refuse an allegation they were collecting very rare species. "We were collecting beetles and their larvae, moths and small amount of lesser insects. We collect even for some of our Czech colleagues if they ask us," they claimed recently.
Scientists´ laws violated
A petition asking for Czech entomologists being released has been already signed by more than eight hundred Czech and foreign scientists. The petition criticizes that scientific work is being "criminalized".
Švácha and Kučera have also support of Czech ambassador to India Hynek Kmoníček.
The scientists claim their rights have been violated. Due to Indian lawyers' strike, they were detained for more than one month, which is against the Indian laws. Besides, they were in a cell together with tens of other prisoners and they were transferred to the court handcuffed, unlike other prisoners. The confiscation of their money is also perceived as violation of basic rights.
Vladislav Malý plans to write all of this down and send it to Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil.
While the Indians authorities acknowledge Petr Švácha is as a world renowned expert, they appear to focus more on the other arrested Czech-amateur entomologist Emil Kučera. The Indian officials believe he had been in the Darjeeling National Park more than once and that the rare larvae of bugs and butterflies he was supposed to collect were not for scientific purpose only.