Alleged bribery case takes new turn with dramatic intervention of state attorney

Zdenek Koristka (Foto: CTK)

It has been described as the biggest political scandal in years: two men connected with the opposition Civic Democrats charged with corruption after a coalition MP said they tried to bribe him to bring down the government. But now the case has been turned on its head, with a state attorney describing the arrests as unlawful, and the MP in question as untrustworthy.

Zdenek Koristka, photo: CTK
On Tuesday north Moravian state attorney Zlatuse Andelova released a report which effectively brought to an end the prosecution of Marek Dalik and Jan Vecerek. The two, close associates of Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, had been dramatically arrested two weeks ago, and charged with trying to bribe MP Zdenek Koristka to bring down the government.

From day one the case has been very complicated but in one sense very simple: it is one man's word against that of two others.

State attorney Andelova did not mince her words on Tuesday, saying the police had acted unlawfully: if their only evidence was Mr Koristka's testimony then they had no grounds to arrest anybody. And while the MP may have passed a lie detector test, he was untrustworthy and had not told the whole truth, she said.

Reactions to Ms Andelova's bombshell were immediate. The Civic Democrats called for the resignation of Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, who surprised many by personally confirming that Mr Koristka had passed the lie detector test. The main opposition party are also calling for the head of the chief of police.

Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, photo: CTK
For his part Zdenek Koristka called the north Moravian state attorney's action scandalous and - a stronger charge - politically motivated. Meanwhile, the supreme state attorney, Marie Benesova, expressed surprise, saying Zlatuse Andelova's statement was very strong. And Interior Minister Bublan has been fighting his corner; he says the north Moravian state attorney is simply unqualified to rule on the results of a lie detector test.

Two months after the case first blew up, the whole thing is essentially back to square one. Mr Bublan says - as do the police - that the investigation will continue. But that is contradicted by the Ostrava district state attorney, who says Ms Andelova's decision to quash the case is binding.

With such disagreement and lack of conclusion begins - most probably - the death of just the latest in a long line of Czech political "affairs".