Court orders Prague High Prosecutor Rampula to leave post

Vlastimil Rampula, photo: CTK

The Prague High Prosecutor Vlastimil Rampula will have to leave his post once again after the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that he made serious errors in the execution of his duties. The court thus settled the latest stage in a dispute between Rampula and Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil, who sacked him for influencing a number of high-profile political cases.

Vlastimil Rampula,  photo: CTK
The Supreme Administrative Court found on Tuesday that the Prague High Prosecutor accumulated multiple mistakes in multiple cases, including some of the biggest cases of alleged corruption of the last decade - namely the purchase of Gripen fighter jets from Sweden and the infamous case of the bankrupt IPB bank.

With regards to IPB bank, Vlastimil Rampula was cited for ordering another prosecutor not to immediately appeal the acquittal of seven of the bank’s managers. By impeding a case without sufficient groundwork available to him, Rampula violated principles of transparency and expertise, the court said. In this case, however, the court also laid in to the other prosecutor for heeding the order, saying that the institute of state prosecution “must not be a collection of colourless, anonymous officials waiting for orders, with no responsibility of their own. The transfer of IPB from the state to its rival ČSOB is believed to have cost taxpayers upwards of 34 billion crowns.

In the case of the Swedish fighter jets though, Mr Rampula was cited for not following orders himself. Having received a clear order from the then Supreme State Prosecutor to keep the case open and expand the substantiation in numerous states, Rampula and others failed to do so in Sweden, where the aircraft were manufactured. According to the judge, Rampula claimed that they would not have found anything out in Sweden anyway. Josef Baxa was the presiding judge in the trial and told Czech Radio where he found the prosecutor’s mistakes:

“It was an odd combination of action and inaction. First of all, there was a set of things that he, as a leading state prosecutor, did not react to and thus accumulated errors in the work of his subordinates… in spite of having been informed of the fact through numerous checks made by the supreme state prosecutor. Or in some cases he trivialised the problems and led long discussions over them. In addition to that, he remained inactive on obvious orders from the former supreme state prosecutor in the case of the Gripens, and did not ask for assistance from Sweden. And lastly he rejected an order from the supreme state prosecutor to provide certain analytical data on the activities of his elite department.”

Josef Baxa,  photo: CTK
Vlastimil Rampula himself has declined to comment on the decision until he receives the judgement in writing. The verdict of the Supreme Administrative Court however is the opposite of that reached earlier this year by the Municipal Court of Prague, which will have to review the matter again. The administrative judges rebuked the lower court for dealing with the Justice Minister’s reasons for sacking Rampula individually, rather than in a wider context. The mistakes he made, said the court, affected the running of an elite institute dealing with serious cases of economic and financial crime.