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Lower house commission questions security chiefs

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Prague, Aug 1 (CTK) – The Czech lower house commission investigating information leaks from police files questioned General Inspection of Security Corps (GIBS) chief Michal Murin and BIS counter-intelligence head Michal Koudelka who refused to talk to journalists today, the press section head has said.

“We would like to know information from the security corps representatives about the cases we are interested in because of possible information leaks from investigation files,” commission chairman Martin Plisek (TOP 09) said before its meeting this morning.

The commission wants to invite journalist Janek Kroupa and Dusan Brunclik, former deputy to the GIBS chief, to its meeting next week, Plisek told reporters after the meeting.

Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and Police President Tomas Tuhy might attend the commission’s meeting next Tuesday if they were available, he added.

The commission also questioned MAFRA media company manager Frantisek Nachtigall in the afternoon.

He was to explain the circumstances of the meetings between government ANO chairman and former finance minister Andrej Babis and Marek Pribil, former journalist from the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) that Babis had owned.

Nachtigall’s testimony differed from that of Pribil, Plisek said without elaborating.

MfD and other media outlets belong to the Mafra company. It is part of the Agrofert holding, which billionaire businessman Babis owned until February when he transferred it to trust funds to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.

Plisek said he would like to discuss with other commission members whether they would invite Babis to a hearing again. The commission questioned him last week.

Babis refused to answer a number of questions, arguing he had filed a legal complaint over the leaks of audio recordings of his meetings with Pribil, Plisek said.

However, the police shelved the complaint since they had not revealed any crime committed in this case.

The police were dealing with the recordings of the meetings between Babis and Pribil that appeared in early May on an anonymous Twitter account. Its name, Julius Suman, refers to former communist secret police (StB) officer who allegedly won Babis over for cooperation under the previous regime, which both deny.

In the recordings, Babis and Pribil discuss prepared articles about his political rivals and the most suitable time for releasing such compromising material. Further recordings emerged later in which they debated the police investigation into some cases.

However, Babis and Pribil denied having ever had a police file on an open case in hands.

“We have asked for the witnesses to be released from secrecy in the Vidkun and Beretta cases, the provision of the Babis-Pribil recordings and the case of subsidy frauds at the Education Ministry,” Plisek said.

“We are also dealing with the OKD (coal-mining company) case. In this connection, Prime Minister (Bohuslav Sobotka) will be invited to one of the commission’s further meetings,” Plisek added.

Information leaked from criminal files in the Vidkun and Beretta corruption cases, in which high-ranking officers of the police in Olomouc, north Moravia, and the specialised corruption squad were charged.

Plisek pointed out that Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) had not yet given consent to Sobotka and Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman being released from secrecy.

Plisek said the commission would like to complete the questioning by the beginning of September to start working on its final report for the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, by the beginning of September at the latest.

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