Czech Supreme Court closes case of vote-buying at Romani housing estate, public interest of secret recording was key
The Czech Supreme Court has closed a case about vote-buying in the runup to local elections in 2014 at the Chanov housing estate. The case charged Hana Jeníčková, the former Vice-Mayor of Most from the "Association of Most Residents for Most" who later became an opposition city councilmember, and Jan Hašek, former director of the city's sports hall, with attempting to buy votes from local residents.
The court in Most found both politicians guilty and sentenced them to half a year in prison, suspended. The appeals court in Ústí nad Labem, however, did not identify with that sentencing and ordered the convicts to pay CZK 50 000 [EUR 1 950].
Crucial evidence in the case was a recording of the defendants that they alleged was acquired illegally. They therefore appealed to the Supreme Court, which has now rejected them, stating that in some cases police are able to use secret recordings as evidence despite the fact that the recordings were acquired without the prior approval of the court.
In this case, according to the Supreme Court, the public interest predominates over the rights of the defendants to privacy. The recording captures Hašek and Jeníčková agreeing on how and in exchange for what monetary equivalent they will arrange to bribe Romani voters to vote for Jeníčková.
The recording was acquired by a local resident, the Romani activist Peter Bažo, who most probably made it after reaching agreement with a political rival of Hašek and Jeníčková's, businessman Jiří Zelenka of Most and the "Severočeši.cz" movement, who provided the activist with the recording equipment. "You're saying it flat out, that's good. These people, naturally, anticipate remuneration, money," Jeníčková says on the recording, part of which was published by news server seznamzpravy.cz.
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