Former PM Petr Nečas charged with corruption

Petr Nečas, photo: CTK

The police have charged former prime minister Petr Nečas with corruption. The case is related to a bribery scandal which toppled his government last June and investigators say it could re-define the rules of political deal-making. Mr Nečas, meanwhile, considers the charges a revenge for a lawsuit he filed against the police.

Petr Nečas,  photo: CTK
Six months after the Czech centre-right government of Petr Nečas fell in the wake of a political corruption scandal, the police have charged the former prime minister himself.

Petr Nečas faces charges of bribery in connection with a deal he struck in the autumn of 2012 with three former Civic Democrat MPs to facilitate the passing of government-sponsored tax legislation by the lower house.

Prosecutors believe that by offering the deputies positions in state-owned firms in return for their stepping down as members of Parliament, Mr Nečas committed bribery, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of six years in jail. Mr Nečas’ attorney Josef Lžičař spoke to Czech Radio about the charges.

“It seems to me that the case is based on wiretaps, on spying on MPs. No new evidence has come up. I can only ask why the police have launched the prosecution of the former prime minister with such a delay.”

Last September, the three former Civic Democrat MPs – Ivan Fuksa, Petr Tluchoř and Marek Šnajdr – were accused of accepting bribes. But the case was halted by the Czech Supreme Court which argued the former deputies cannot be prosecuted for anything related to the execution of their mandates including their decision to give it up.

The verdict, which caused an uproar among Czech politicians and the country’s legal community, however did not apply to Mr Nečas, himself a member of Parliament at that time.

Ivo Ištvan,  photo: CTK
The case is supervised by the High State Attorney’s office in Olomouc. Its head, Ivo Ištvan, says the case could help establish the rules for what kind of deals are still acceptable in politics.

“[The issue is] whether MPs in the legislative process in the lower house should act in good conscience, or whether and to what extents it’s acceptable for their decisions to be affected by promises of personal gain. That is the crucial question.”

Petr Nečas, who has since quit politics and now works as a lecturer at one of Prague’s private colleges, last month filed a lawsuit against the head of the boss of the Czech police’s organized crime unit, Robert Šlachta, over the operation that toppled his government. He says the corruption charges file are nothing but a payback, a claim vigorously rejected by both the prosecution and the police.