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Respekt: MPs’ commission fails to clear up police shakeup

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Prague, Feb 6 (CTK) – The final report released by the Czech lawmakers’ commission investigating last year’s police shakeup offers a variety of ambiguous explanations but no evidence, which is why it can be interpreted differently by the shakeup’s critics and advocates, Jaroslav Spurny writes in weekly Respekt out yesterday.
The commission dealt with the mid-2016 abolition of the police anti-mafia (UOOZ) and anti-corruption (UOKFK) squads and their replacement by a brand-new unit with a new command, he writes.
Out of the final report’s conclusions, the most interesting is the appeal for the government to consider making personnel changes at the High State Attorney’s Office (VSZ) in Olomouc. Fortunately, such changes cannot be pondered by politicians but only by Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman, who said there are no reasons for him to do so, Spurny writes.
This and other similar “conclusions” make the report a mere political gesture, which fails to answer the question of why the Police Presidium liquidated the crucial elite squads so hastily and all of a sudden eight months ago, Spurny writes.
The lawmakers in the commission even did not try to find out how the police shakeup benefited Czech society, he writes.
When the information about the planned shakeup appeared last summer, it caused a rift between Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s Social Democrats (CSSD), who promoted it, and Finance Minister Andrej Babis’s ANO movement, backed by some state attorneys, that criticised it as a step aimed to eliminate UOOZ director Robert Slachta and frustrate the investigation of corrupt politicians.
The commission comprised of lawmakers from all parties in parliament was established last July shortly before Police President Tomas Tuhy and his deputy Zdenek Laube implemented the plan and dissolved the successful unit of Slachta, Spurny writes.
Many expected the commission to highlight the motive, circumstances and effect of the shakeup and answer questions such as whether it was a step controlled by politicians and mafias.
At the time, the situation was turbulent and opaque, with high-ranking police officers accusing each other of leak of information and lodging criminal complaints against each other. State attorneys protested against the police’s failure to discuss the shakeup with them beforehand, and they warned that the step would halt the investigation of several serious [corruption] cases potentially involving politicians and police officers. ANO threatened to withdraw from the coalition agreement and the justice minister [ANO’s Robert Pelikan] was considering resigning in protest against the shakeup, Spurny writes.
Common people had no clue of what of the information flood were facts and what was manipulation or lie. When the commission was established, people hoped that it will seek justice or even an objective view of the affair, Spurny writes.
The commission presented a final report on its enquiry in the Chamber of Deputies last Thursday. The report is rather brief, but its biggest flaw is the absence of evidence, Spurny writes.
The authors offer various explanations without proving them. They assert that the shakeup was unprepared and was a managerial failure of Laube, but they do not explain how he actually failed, why he launched the police reform on his own and why he used certain methods to achieve the goal, Spurny writes.
This also applies to almost all of the commission’s conclusions, which everyone can interpret differently without worrying about pieces of evidence. The only argument in support of various interpretations is that the commission’s report says so, Spurny writes.
As a result, Police President Tuhy asserts that the report dismissed the suspicion of his leaks of information from open criminal cases. As an argument he cites the report’s statement that no such leaks have been proved.
Slachta, for his part, protests against the above interpretation and points out that the report elsewhere says that the role of cell phones used by Tuhy’s family members has not been clarified so far and that the suspicion of Tuhy’s information leaks has not been refuted, Spurny writes.
Almost all conclusions in the report are similarly ambiguous, he writes.
The commission could not resist trying to enter the banned area of state attorneys’ powers, but it failed, which is a good piece of news. Moreover, unlike politicians, the police and state attorneys have refrained from squabbling over the interpretation of the commission’s conclusions, Spurny writes.
The police and attorneys now speak about a “cautious mutual approximation” and say that law enforceability, or the judiciary’s ability to investigate complex cases, is their common aim. People are trying to cautiously believe them, Spurny adds.

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