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"Give Us Back Our State!": Removal of Czech Justice Minister discredits anti-corruption reforms

Prague, 28.6.2012 19:05, (ROMEA)

News server Romea.cz is publishing in full translation below a press release from the "Give Us Back Our State!" (Vraťte nám stát! - VNS) platform. ROMEA, o.s. is a founding member of the platform, which is criticizing the recent removal of Czech Justice Minister Pospíšil.

Press release of the "Give Us Back Our State!" platform

Prague, 27 June 2012

The removal of Justice Minister Pospíšil was intended to prevent the appointment of a High State Prosecutor in Prague to guarantee the impartial, thorough investigation of the country's most serious corruption and economic scandals. Prime Minister Nečas has hastily and surprisingly removed the Justice Minister on the pretext of a lack of budgetary discipline at the exact moment when the ministry had begun real work on cleaning up the justice system, especially reform of the Office of the State Prosecutor.

There is no doubt that this day will be recorded in history as an episode of political manipulation. Prime Minister Nečas has given completely unconvincing reasons for removing Minister Pospíšil, claiming that he managerially did not handle the ministry's budget well because he is requesting more money for the prison services. This is evidently not the real reason for his removal, as can be seen from the dramatic rush to get him out of office.

The removal of Minister Pospíšil was preceded by emotional statements by Finance Minister Kalousek related to an investigation into arms contracts for purchases of CASA aircraft. Minister Kalousek called this investigation an "unprecedented police attack on the decision-making mechanisms of the state and the democratic system". For his part, the Prime Minster said that "police officers will not decide about the government, the police do not make decisions about political responsibility".

It is obvious that the end was in sight with respect to disclosures regarding the corruption scandals that have accompanied public tenders in the Czech Republic for years now. These politicians' extreme reactions to the police pressing charges against Vlasta Parkanová, the former Defense Minister and former Justice Minister, shows the application of a dangerous double standard when it comes to the criminal liability of governmental or political actors. In the light of these statements and the removal of the Justice Minister responsible for justice system reform, the Government's declaration that it is fighting against corruption and for budgetary responsibility is shown to be nothing but pure blather.

There can be only one reason to remove Minister Pospíšil in this situation: To prevent the appointment, on the basis of a proposal from the Supreme State Prosecutor, Dr. Zeman, of a new High State Prosecutor in Prague to guarantee the impartial oversight of investigations into the country's most serious corruption and economic scandals. We call on the Supreme State Prosecutor, Dr. Zeman, to remain unaffected by this procedure on the part of the Prime Minister and other cabinet members and to continue reforming the Office of the State Prosecutor so it can function independent of economic and political influence and eventually disclose all of the suspicious cases of corruption and economic crimes.

By taking this step, Prime Minister Petr Nečas has discredited all of the anti-corruption reform moves of this Government. The way in which the Justice Minister has been removed is so incredible that it raises very serious suspicions that the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic has made this decision under pressure from economic interest groups and the "godfathers" inside the political parties who have everything to fear from investigations into suspicious corruption and economic scandals.

VNS is a platform currently including 38 organizations supported by more than 34 000 individual signatures advocating for the creation of a parliamentary investigating commission including members of the public to investigate links between organized crime and the so-called "godfathers" in the justice system, politics, and the public administration, as well as for declassification of BIS (Security Information Services) materials. For more information, please see na www.vrattenamstat.cz

Gwendolyn Albert, tisková zpráva, Press release of the "Give Us Back Our State!" (Vraťte nám stát! - VNS) platform, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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