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LN: Police eye merger of organised crime, corruption units

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Prague, June 2 (CTK) – The Czech Police Presidium plans to propose a merger of the police organised crime (UOOZ) and anti-corruption (UOKFK) units, a step that might unseat Robert Slachta as the long-standing UOOZ head, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes on Thursday, adding that the supreme state attorney opposes the plan.

The two nationally-operating units are to merge as from July, according to the proposal silently prepared by Deputy Police President Zdenek Laube, who keeps details on the planned changes secret, LN writes.

Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman learnt about the plan last week. He has discussed it with Police President Tomas Tuhy already and is preparing further steps, the daily writes.

“I don’t know details of the plan, which are of great importance. Nevertheless, the step would bring about a unit of almost 900 officers. I am afraid it would be hard to control. I am afraid that this might influence the quality of its work, which is fundamentally important for criminal proceedings, as is the prevention of the leaks of information,” LN quotes Pavel Zeman as saying.

The proposed changes will require consent from Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD).

“If any organisational changes occur, we always announce them in time. We do not have any such information for the moment,” Chovanec’s spokeswoman Lucie Novakova told the daily.

Pavel Zeman said it would be a mistake if Slachta ended in the post of UOOZ head.

“I consider Colonel Slachta a very competent commander who has brought the UOOZ to a very good level. He has created a well-working team. It would be a pity to lose this human potential that has been developed for many years,” Zeman is quoted as saying.

The change is also opposed by the two High State Attorney’s Offices (VSZ), LN continues.

“I am learning about it from you. At present, I consider a merger of the UOOZ and the UOKFK a risk we cannot afford,” Prague High State Attorney’s Office head Lenka Bradacova told he daily.

“I do not know what the change should be good for. It is shocking [piece of news], I can’t believe it,” said Olomouc VSZ chief Ivo Istvan.

According to speculations, the merged unit is to be headed by Michal Mazanek, current head of the Office for the criminal police and investigation, the daily writes.

Referring to Slachta, 44, who has headed the UOOZ for more than eight years, LN presents some of the important complex criminal cases his squad has uncovered, including the Nagygate corruption and illegal spying scandal of an aide to former PM Petr Necas, the Vikdun case of a suspected corruption network including Olomouc Region Governor Jiri Rozboril, and most recently also the Bereta case involving former UOKFK officer Radek Holub.

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