Stripped of her immunity, Vlasta Parkanová (TOP 09) can now be prosecuted over a contract to buy CASA transport planes for the Czech Army — which were allegedly unneeded and deliberately overpriced by at least Kč 658 million. Former police investigator Zdeněk Ondráček explains how her prosecution could ultimately lead to higher levels of responsibility for the nation’s politicians.
Vlasta Parkanová (TOP 09) resigned on Wednesday as deputy speaker of the House after MPs voted 117 to 45 (with 14 abstentions) to lift her parliamentary immunity so that she can be prosecuted over a contract to buy CASA transport planes for the Czech Army, which were allegedly unneeded and deliberately overpriced by at least Kč 658 million.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek’s (TOP 09) tactical offensive to prevent fellow party member Vlasta Parkanová from being stripped of her immunity from prosecution will likely end in defeat. Not only would it go against TOP 09’s stated principles, the opposition is united in wanting the ex-defense minister to face charges over the purchase of CASA planes for the Czech Army. Parkanová also should rather seek clarity from the courts, writes commentator Petr Nováček.
Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil (ODS) was sacked without warning — and apparent provocation. It seems Prime Minister Petr Nečas caved in to pressure from those within his party (and the ‘godfathers’ behind them) who fear an effective prosecution service. But the public smell a rat, and this is the biggest mistake of Nečas’ political career thus far. Once seen as ‘Mr Clean,’ he is now thought to have dirtied his hands.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS) told a news conference on Wednesday he had ousted Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil he had lost confidence in his fellow party member’s ability to manage his ministry and its finances, over a request for an extra Kč 1 billion for the Prison Service at a time of belt-tightening. But sources say it was Pospíšil’s shake-up of the judiciary system and failure to quickly appoint a top prosecutor to Nečas’ liking that led to his sacking.
Parliament’s immunity and mandate committee took no decision at their session Wednesday on the question of allowing MP Vlasta Parkanová (TOP 09), the former defense minister, to be prosecuted on abuse of office and other charges for her role in the 2009 purchase of CASA transport aircraft. But whether she can even be held liable for the ‘deliberately overpriced’ CASA contract is a matter of contention.
Czech anti-corruption police have asked for Vlasta Parkanová (TOP 09), the deputy speaker of the lower house of Parliament and a former defense minister, to be stripped of immunity so that she may be prosecuted on abuse of office and other charges for her role in the 2009 purchase of CASA transport aircraft. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) had looked into allegations of corruption regarding the CASA deal, which Brussels later said ran afoul of public procurement rules.
The Ministry of Finance has approved salary increases of up to Kč 11,000 per month for members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra but has yet to approve a promised pay rise for members of the National Theater.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) gave a brutal warning that the country’s budget deficit could jump to a staggering 6.0 percent of GDP if the billions of euros in payments from EU funding for programs now frozen — due to doubts in Brussels about how the money has been used and accounted for by the Czechs — are not cleared up.
World-renowned conductor Jiří Bělohlávek is set to swap London and the BBC Symphony Orchestra for Prague and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. But he has twice resigned from posts when politicians failed to deliver on their promises, and Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has not released a promised Kč 150 million to raise the meagre salaries of the musicians soon to be under Bělohlávek’s baton.