Legal assessment on Parkanová case sparks fresh political controversy

Vlasta Parkanová

Former defense minister Vlasta Parkanová, who has come under suspicion of abusing her position in an overpriced military aircraft deal, has a loyal defender in Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek. The finance minister, who previously served in the same cabinet in which Mrs Parkanová had the defense portfolio, has called her possible prosecution unconstitutional. He is basing his criticism on a statement from the Czech Institute of State and Law.

Vlasta Parkanová
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek is one of the fiercest defenders of former defense minister Vlasta Parkanová, who may face criminal prosecution for an overpriced army deal should the lower house of Parliament in July vote to strip its deputy speaker of her immunity.

Once again, Mr Kalousek stuck his neck out for his former cabinet colleague when on Monday he published the outcome of an assessment he had ordered from the Czech Institute of State and Law. In it, experts write that the former defense minister had not been legally obliged to get an independent opinion on the value of the four CASA transport planes she purchased in a deal that allegedly was overpriced by 658 million Czech crowns, or roughly 25 million Euros. In his criticism of the request for prosecution, Mr Kalousek went as far as calling the Czech Republic a police state.

“We are becoming witnesses of an unprecedented attack by the police on the democratic decision-making mechanism of the state. After ten years, the criminal prosecution has demonstrated that it uses a double standard in interpreting the law, and that its approach is simply scandalous.”

Miroslav Kalousek
But Mr Kalousek’s allegations did not stop there. He believes that not only did the former defense minister not commit a crime, but that in fact, the behavior of the police and the prosecution should be the subject of a future investigation.

“I am convinced that the state prosecutor will have to at some point halt the prosecution, because the issue at stake is not a criminal act and then, we will have to look into why the Czech police investigated allegations that were based on lies. If we consider the prosecutor responsible, it could even have been motivated by the media, politically or financially.”

The opposition Social Democrats reacted with outrage to the implication that the police request to prosecute Ms. Parkanová may have been politically motivated, in what some see as a tit for tat gesture in the wake of the prosecution of the former high-ranking Social Democrat politician David Rath. They moreover demanded that the prime minister comment on Mr. Kalousek's statement regarding the alleged abuse of power on the part of Czech police.

CASA plane
Prime Minister Petr Nečas reacted to both statements on Sunday, in what was obviously an attempt to calm rising emotions. He reminded the opposition Social Democrats that they too had harbored suspicions of a politically motivated attack against one of their own in the early days of the David Rath case, and said that differing interpretations of the law in the Parkanová case did not under any circumstances give reason to believe that the Czech Republic was a police state.