Corruption case unresolved

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When the "Koristka case" first hit the headlines it seemed a fairly clear-cut affair - one government MP accused two men close to the leading opposition party of offering him a ten million crown bribe to bring down the government in a no-confidence vote. It had the making of the biggest political scandal in years - but instead of becoming clearer the picture got more blurred - thanks to politicians, the police and the key players themselves.

It was a corruption case at the highest level - and not surprisingly aroused huge press and public interest. Political analysts predicted that it could break one of the two political parties involved - the ruling Social Democrats and their biggest right-wing rivals, the Civic Democrats. It was marked by violent political emotions, stormy public disputes between the police chief and the state attorney over the correct course of action in the investigation, and secrecy and speculation regarding what evidence the police was actually building the case on.

For the first time in a Czech political case it brought into play the lie detector test - which left the parties involved arguing over whether such methods were reliable.

Marek Dalik, photo: CTK
And it eventually brought to light the fact that neither Zdenek Koristka who made the accusations, nor Jan Vecerek and Marek Dalik, one a lobbyist, the other an aide to the Civic Democratic Party leader, were capable of giving a convincing account of what actually happened at their fateful meeting. Koristka was not sure which of the two men had offered him the bribe, and to make his position worse, it later emerged that he had earlier accepted an offer of a financially lucrative holiday from Vecerek. As for Dalik and Vecerek, they eventually admitted to having offered Koristka the post of ambassador to Bulgaria, but as a joke.

The charges against Vecerek and Dalik have now been dropped, on the understanding that the police will continue investigating the case to try and find "more convincing evidence" on the grounds of which it could start over again.

As many predicted, the case has fizzled out. Nobody now expects to learn what actually happened and the public only feels more disillusioned with politicians, the police, the justice system and, not least, the strange role played by lobbyists in Czech politics.