Sunday, 2 August 2020

ODS wants lower house to debate rift over police reform

22 June 2016

Prague, June 21 (CTK) - The Czech opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) want the current dispute between government coalition parties over a forthcoming police reform to be discussed by the lower house's plenary session, ODS chairman Petr Fiala told journalists yesterday.
The ODS will yet decide whether to ask for convoking an extraordinary session or propose that the issue be debated at a regular session as a special point on the agenda.
The opposition Communists (KSCM) view the police command's plan to merge two elite national police squads that fight organised crime (UOOZ) and financial crime (UOKFK) as a project that is half-baked, overhasty and rather unfounded, KSCM deputy Zdenek Ondracek said at a separate press conference.
Ondracek, who heads the lower house subcommittee for the police, said the merger would not bring any positive effect. Besides, he wonders why the national anti-drug squad is not included in the merger.
The opposition TOP 09 wants a special commission to be established to highlight unusual steps of some state attorneys and police officers, TOP 09 chairman Miroslav Kalousek said after a meeting of the party leadership yesterday.
The CSSD, too, will initiate the establishment of a special lower house commission to deal with the internal disputes in the police, CSSD deputies' group head Roman Sklenak told journalists after the group's meeting later yesterday.
On Thursday, the lower house security committee is to meet to discuss the conflict between the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the ANO movement, which says the reform prepared by Police President Tomas Tuhy and backed by Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) is unprepared, suspicious and aimed to paralyse the fight against corruption and organised crime.
Outgoing UOOZ head Robert Slachta and UOOZ regional chief Jiri Komarek on Monday said they want to inform the committee members about suspected links between police and the criminal scene and about a serious leak of information on the part of Tuhy. In the meantime, Tuhy has filed a complaint against Komarek on suspicion of slander and other crimes.
Sklenak said the CSSD dislikes the way the lower house security committee meeting was convoked yesterday by its deputy head Bronislav Schwarz (ANO) who used the absence of the chairman, Roman Vana (CSSD), who is on a business trip abroad.
The CSSD expressed disagreement and dissatisfaction with Schwarz's step, and said a parliamentary commission of should be established to enquire whether the law has been observed by someone in connection with the police, Sklenak said.
Chovanec told journalists that he is ready to attend the committee meeting but has not been invited yet. He is ready to turn up together with Tuhy and his deputies.
However, the Interior Ministry is analysing whether it can relieve the police of the duty of confidentiality. The law probably does not enable the Interior Ministry to do so, and the Chamber of Deputies would have to be asked to do so first, Chovanec said.
Kalousek said TOP 09 has called on PM and CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka and Chovanec to use their powers and authority and enforce the observance of law and rules in the police.
"It cannot be tolerated if police officers disrespect laws and prefer voicing accusations in public and fomenting media hysteria," Kalousek said, calling such behaviour an attempted coup in the police.
If a police officer suspects their colleague of crime, they are bound to immediately report it to the police inspection body (GIBS), in accordance with law, Kalousek said.
Fiala said "it is impossible for a police war to rage on the Czech scene...I can imagine [the ODS provoking] either an extraordinary session or having extraordinary points put on the agenda," he said.
TOP 09 honorary chairman Karel Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic finds itself on the most important crossroads since 1990.
"The essence of our state is at stake...The republic is based on laws and rules, otherwise it is a wild gang," Schwarzenberg said.
The KSCM, on its part, criticised Chovanec for having failed to secure an expert discussion about the reform with the lower house security committee, state attorneys and other subjects that cooperate with police on investigating cases.
As far as the Komarek-Tuhy conflict is concerned, "the lower house security committee should deal with their statements. As a result, one of the two must fall. Either Colonel Komarek or the police president," Ondracek (KSCM) said.

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