Monday, 22 July 2019

Supreme attorney: Local politicians commit mere fraction of crime

20 July 2018

Prague, July 19 (CTK) - Criminal activities of local and regional politicians make up a negligible fraction of 0.03 percent in the total volume of crime in the Czech Republic, Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman told reporters on Thursday.

He dismissed the opinion of some that the police and state attorneys overdo their repression against elected-officials of towns and self-governing regions.

Zeman presented an analysis the State Attorney's Office completed at the request of the Chamber of Deputies' constitutional and legal committee.

In 2013-2017, local and regional politicians were subject to 438 cases of criminal proceedings out of the total number of 1.3 million, the analysis showed.

Out of some 60,000 members of town and regional councils and assemblies, prosecution was faced by a few dozens a year, 56 percent of whom were mayors and regional governors, 12 percent town or regional assemblymen and 6 percent town or regional councillors.

More than three quarters of the proceedings against local and regional politicians started based on criminal complaints filed against them with the law enforcement bodies.

"The complainants are dissatisfied citizens, and of course, there are also some political opponents, who fared worse in an election than in the previous one," Zeman said.

He said 84 percent of such cases were discontinued still during the check phase, without prosecution being launched.

In the past five years, only 49 local and regional politicians faced a trial. Twenty-four suspects were convicted, 16 acquitted and 19 partly acquitted in the given period, Zeman said.

Stanislav Polcak (Mayors and Independents, STAN), head of the Association of Local Authorities, said there was "a considerable pressure for the criminalisation of elected officials."

This led to a markedly lower quality of life, worsening of family relations and social disparagement, Polcak said.

This situation is not a picture of a responsible work of state attorneys, he added.

He said the interest in running for public posts was falling due to this.

Polcak said he would ask the justice minister for a higher level of protection for elected officials in order to prevent the filing of criminal complaints with the sole aim of making life hard for the officials or politically harming them.

By completing the analysis, the State Attorney's Office reacted to what Zeman called the emerging "inaccurate information" about excessive repressions against elected local and regional politicians and an excessive number of criminal proceedings against them, which allegedly mostly result in acquittals.

The Chamber of Deputies wanted the State Attorney's Office to complete a survey of all cases of negligent breach of trust. The analysis showed that this type of offence was involved only in 19 of the total 438 cases of suspected crime committed by local and regional politicians.

The cases of suspected deliberate breach of trust by local and regional politicians were far more numerous, there were 214 of them in the given period. This was the second most often investigated type of crime, after abuse of power, Zeman said.

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