Nečas to face bribery charge?

Petr Nečas, photo: CTK

According to documents quoted in the Czech media, the police believe that Petr Nečas, who stood down as prime minister on Monday, was personally involved in bribing former MPs. Indeed, with the woman who was his chief of staff on remand for bribery, along with the ex-deputies, it would appear logical that Mr. Nečas also be charged.

Petr Nečas,  photo: CTK
One strand in a complicated investigation that has led to the resignation of Petr Nečas as Czech prime minister involves the alleged bribing of three former MPs from his party, the Civic Democrats.

The three had threatened to bring down the government in November in a confidence vote linked to changes in the tax system to which they were vocally opposed.

In the end, however, the three stepped down before the vote and the government survived. Mr. Nečas described their move as politically honest and dignified.

The three were not out of work for long. Ivan Fuksa got a top job at the state-owned firm Czech Aeroholding. Marek Šnajdr joined the supervisory board of another state company, Čepro.

The third, Petr Tluchoř, was offered a cushy number at Czech Rail; however, perhaps scared of media interest and public opprobrium, he didn’t take up the post but “gave it” to his assistant.

Petr Tluchoř,  photo: Matěj Pálka
Nevertheless, Tluchoř’s move has not saved him from being charged alongside Fuksa and Šnajdr with bribe-taking, with the bribe in question being a lucrative position. All three are now behind bars.

Code-filled quotations from police wiretaps and other documents in the Czech media suggest that Mr. Nečas’s former chief of staff Jana Nagyová played a key role in agreeing the alleged sweeteners. She is also in custody on bribery and other charges.

Naturally, if the three MPs were guilty of bribe-taking, somebody must have been guilty of offering them the quid pro quo, and the obvious candidate is the head of the government they had threatened to unseat, Petr Nečas. That is reportedly the conclusion the police have reached.

However, though a state prosecutor has been quoted as saying the next move will be “logical”, the police have not yet charged the now disgraced politician.

If they did, they would also have to ask the lower house to waive his immunity from prosecution – a request that the parties in the outgoing coalition at least would likely reject.

That said, parliamentary immunity is no longer for life: he could be picked up when his mandate ends next year, or sooner if parliament is dissolved.

Jana Nagyová,  photo: CTK
When the allegations first surfaced, Mr Nečas denied strongly that jobs for the boys could constitute bribery. I scratch your back, you scratch mine was, he said, just part of politics.

Going by the media, prosecutors seem to have a wealth of wiretap evidence regarding who said what to whom as an apparent deal took shape late last year.

But expert opinion is divided on whether what transpired amounted to bribery or was plain old-fashioned political horse-trading. It will be fascinating to follow if and when the matter comes to court.