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Palestinian ambassador died 'opening safe'

Czech police say an explosive may have been part of a security mechanism that detonated after safe was opened.

Last updated: 02 Jan 2014 07:19
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The Palestinian foreign ministry said it would send a team to Prague to help with the investigation [Reuters]

Czech police has said the death of the Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic at his Prague home on New Year's Day was likely caused by the explosion of an anti-theft system on an old safe he was opening.

Jamal al-Jamal, 56, who took office in October and only recently moved to the new residence on the northern outskirts of Prague, "was opening an old safe which had been brought from the previous embassy (building) to the new one," the Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

"The evidence the police have doesn't suggest anything like a terror attack or that a specific person would set up a system with the intention to hurt or kill anyone," Andrea Zoulova, Czech police spokeswoman, told AFP news agency.

Zoulova said police were not ruling out the possibility the safe was "mishandled", adding: "The victim has died so it will be harder to prove the cause."

Daniel Langer, surgeon at the Prague military hospital to which Jamal was taken, told Czech television the ambassador had suffered devastating "head, belly and chest injuries following an explosion".

'An exemplary diplomat'

The Palestinian foreign ministry said it would send a team to Prague to help with the investigation.

Riyad al-Malki, Palestinian foreign minister, hailed him as "an exemplary diplomat, who served his country and cause well".

Jamal was born in Beirut in 1957 to a Palestinian family that had fled Jaffa - near modern-day Tel Aviv - after the state of Israel was created in 1948, and moved to Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon.

Jamal joined the Fatah party in 1975 and became an aide to the ambassador in Bulgaria four years later. He moved to Prague as a diplomat in 1984.

After working as Palestinian consul to the Egyptian port city of Alexandria from 2005, he was appointed ambassador to the Czech Republic in October 2013.

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AFP
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