Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Labour minister to resign if deputy found guilty of bribery

ČTK |
3 October 2012

Prague, Oct 2 (CTK) - Czech Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromir Drabek (TOP 09) will resign if his first deputy Vladimir Siska, whom the police accused of bribery on Monday, is found guilty of the crime, Drabek said yesterday after a meeting of the TOP 09 leadership.

Drabek dismissed Siska later yesterday. He assigned Zdenek Kadlec, head of his office, to temporarily deal with Siska's agenda, Labour and Social Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Viktorie Plivova told CTK.

Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) told CTK that the projects Siska supervised as deputy minister and that are surrounded by doubts should be checked.

Siska's dismissal was the only possible step to be taken, Necas said.

"Now some projects that Siska carried out at the ministry should be checked and doubts linked to them should be refuted," Necas said.

"Minister Drabek's words on drawing personal responsibility if the levelled accusations show true are logical, the only possible, and I take them seriously," he added.

Drabek said he can feel full responsibility for having brought Siska to the ministry and made him his first deputy.

TOP 09 chairman and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg thanked Drabek for his stance. The situation is unpleasant for the party, he added.

The TOP 09 leadership expressed full trust in Drabek, the party's deputy chairman.

"I do not have any concrete information about the accusation of bribery for the moment," Drabek said.

Drabek told a press conference that Siskas's dismissal would be valid during Siska's investigation.

Drabek said he is convinced Siska had not committed the crime and that the accusation would prove unsubstantiated.

The senior opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) demand Drabek's immediate resignation.

The Social Democrats called on Necas to sack Drabek yesterday. They also want an audit of the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry's orders to be carried out and the lower house investigating commission to look into the case to be established.

The CSSD reminded of an allegedly dubious tender for the ministry's order worth 2.4 billion crowns.

Detectives detained Siska along with the ministry's IT section head Milan Hojer in the ministry's office on Monday afternoon.

Their prosecution is connected with a tender for some public procurement, anti-corruption police spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej said without elaborating.

The police refused to tell Drabek any details.

A state attorney received the police decision on launching the prosecution in the case yesterday but he did not release any details either.

TOP 09 first deputy chairman and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek told reporters that the party's leadership took note of Drabek's information and said they support his stance and fully trust him.

"We have no idea of what the deputy minister is accused," Schwarzenberg said. The party firmly stands by Drabek, he added.

Siska is a former sponsor of TOP 09. According to the party's website, he donated 400,000 crowns to it in 2009.

Drabek yesterday again pointed to the lack of information on the case. He reiterated that he would step down if it became clear that Siska had committed such a crime.

Drabek met Necas to discuss the situation, which the prime minister called serious, on Monday evening.

The TOP 09 leadership cannot dare to connect Siska's arrest with the October 12-13 Senate and regional elections since it does not have enough information, Kalousek said.

In his first reaction to Siska's detention on Monday, Drabek related the police steps to the upcoming elections.

Siska was in charge of the personnel, international cooperation and EU, IT, legal support, property management and central purchases sections.

Kadlec as the head of the minister's office secures its operation, he deals with parliamentary and government agenda, security and crisis management and the buildings' protection as well as public relations.

($1=19.470 crowns)

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