Parliamentary committee recommends for MP and former defence minister to be stripped of immunity

Vlasta Parkanová

Parliament’s Mandate and Immunity Committee has advised deputies in the lower house to strip coalition MP Vlasta Parkanová of immunity. The former defence minister is suspected of abuse of public office and breach of trust in connection with a 3.5 billion crown purchase of military planes during her term in office.

Vlasta Parkanová
Following Tuesday’s recommendation, she is one step closer to being prosecuted. Vlasta Parkanová has denied any wrongdoing in the CASA plane purchase and she has said her conscience is clear: but after Tuesday she is one step closer to facing legal action. The charge is that as defence minister, Parkanová failed to commission an expert assessment on four CASA military transport planes ordered, allegedly causing the Czech Republic 658 million crowns in damages. It took members of Parliament’s Mandate and Immunity Committee only half-an-hour before announcing the recommendation, that she be stripped of immunity, after voting (or in some cases abstaining) largely along party lines.

CASA plane
One member of the coalition’s TOP 09 party was against: Civic Democrat Ivana Weberová was an exception, siding with the opposition, saying details of the deal needed to be examined by an impartial court. Others too, even if opposed to the investigation in general, think the recommendation was the right one. For example, TOP 09 deputies’ club head Petr Gazdík told Czech Radio he welcomed the result not because he thought Ms. Parkanová was guilty of wrongdoing (the opposite, in fact) but because he opposes Parliamentary immunity on principle.

“I am against it and I will vote in favour of her losing immunity when it comes down to the vote. Objectively speaking, though, in the police request there are lies and there are elements that are being misrepresented: Ms. Parkanová is not being charged because the deal was ‘overpriced’ but because she failed to order an expert assessment. That’s the difference, I think, and I can’t believe that a member of the former coalition party Public Affairs thinks otherwise.”

Petr Gazdík reaction was to words by Public Affair’s Radek John – who is a member of the Mandate and Immunity Committee – who said this:

Radek John,  photo: CTK
“The most important thing in the file is that there is evidence the planes were overpriced. She should have guaranteed in any way possible that that didn’t happen. 3.5 billion is not small change – she should have known what they were worth.”

The vote on immunity could take place as early as Wednesday, paving the way for prosecution: Vlasta Parkanová, meanwhile, said she had reflected on the committee’s decision and said she hoped that when it came to the vote MPs would base their decision on factual arguments.