Supreme State Attorney under fire

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Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova's career may be about to come to an abrupt end because in a fit of pique she made an accusation she may not be able to prove. In a private telephone conversation with a journalist she accused Justice Ministry spokesman Petr Dimun of bribing TV Nova to air a damaging report about her. Unfortunately for her, the journalist she made the rash statement to by phone was recording the conversation and its contents were splashed all over the papers the next day. Now, the Supreme State Attorney has been asked to back up her accusations or resign.

Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova Marie Benesova, photo: CTK
The clash of wills between the Supreme State Attorney and Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has lasted for several months now. Earlier this year the minister threatened to have Mrs. Benesova sacked when news of charges against the former information minister Vladimir Mlynar were leaked to the press before Mr. Mlynar himself knew of them. Conflict flared up anew when Minister Nemec by-passed the courts and ordered the return of a Qatari prince, charged with sexually abusing minors, to his homeland. Mrs. Benesova intervened and got the decision reversed. And, most recently, the justice minister has sent an inspection to the Supreme State Attorney's Office. The inspection was to uncover "incompetent employees". It was in reaction to this that Marie Benesova flared up and accused the ministry of being out to damage her office at all costs. It was -to all appearances - a fatal mistake and the minister is now demanding her head on a silver platter. Her fate is to be decided at this week's Cabinet meeting and the question in everyone's mind is does she have the necessary proof to save face? If she did, it would set off an earthquake at the Justice Ministry. But although Mrs. Benesova claims to have got her facts from unnamed sources inside the ministry, she clearly does not feel in a position to do battle. In an interview for the BBC she admitted she'd made a rash accusation and acted imprudently.

Marie Benesova and Justice Minister Pavel Nemec (on the right), photo: CTK
Although she's got herself into a bind, the Supreme State Attorney is not friendless. Many commentators have taken the view that Benesova is a blabbermouth but an honest one at that. They point out that her all-out determination to root out corruption and her focus on sensitive cases, no matter who is involved, has not gone down well with some politicians and political parties. Already some cabinet ministers have indicated that they trust her and will not vote for her dismissal. Either way the fight over her future is expected to rock the government boat and tax the prime minister's diplomatic skills to the limit.