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MPs’ commission wants special body to investigate attorneys

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Prague, Sept 8 (CTK) – The Czech lower house commission dealing with leaks from criminal investigation files wants a special body to be established at the Supreme State Attorney’s Office (NSZ) to investigate suspected criminal activities of state attorneys, it said in a report presented on Friday.

The commission, headed by MP Martin Plisek (TOP 09), furthermore proposes that law enforcement bodies be bound to register their contacts with media, including their content and reason, and make documents on these contacts a part of the respective investigation files.

The commission was established a few months ago in reaction to the audio recordings that appeared on the Internet and showed ANO movement leader and then finance minister Andrej Babis and a journalist discuss the release of materials in media with the aim to discredit rival politicians. Babis called the recordings “manipulated” and a part of a campaign targeted against him.

Plisek said the commission did not come to the conclusion that it should file a criminal complaint based on its previous hearing of witnesses.

The Chamber of Deputies is to discuss the commission’s final report on Tuesday.

The proposed special body should check, among others, whether state attorneys leaked information from investigation files. Such a leak should be qualified as abuse of power, the commission suggests in its report.

On Thursday, the same idea was mentioned by another parliamentary commission, whose task is to supervise the use of police wiretappings and which spoke about a state attorney’s mistake in the case of Shahram Abdullah Zadeh, a Czech-Iranian businessman suspected of tax evasion and the influencing of witnesses.

In reaction to Plisek, Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman objected that if a body to investigate state attorneys were established at the NSZ, there would be no higher instance to supervise the body.

Perhaps the proposed new body may be established at the [lower-level] High State Attorney’s Office (VSZ), Zeman told CTK.

Plisek’s commission also recommends that the law on personal data protection be amended to say that all facts except those presented within public court proceedings be viewed as private personal data and protected accordingly.

The law on free access to information should be modified in a way to secure the observance of the principle that makes preparatory criminal proceedings closed to the public, the commission writes.

It writes the government should consider amending the penal code and defining what a public interest should look like to justify the gaining and publishing of information from ongoing criminal proceedings.

Another legislative change should anchor an explicit ban on private detectives gaining information from sources belonging to law enforcement bodies, the commission writes.

It proposes that detailed legislation be adopted to define when pieces of evidence gained within criminal proceedings can be used for other purposes, for civilian or administrative proceedings, for example, in a situation where the criminal proceedings’ preparatory phase is still underway.

If implemented, the above proposals should prevent leaks from investigation files, which posed a problem now, Plisek said.

He said the recommended legislative changes will have to be made by the next government to emerge from the October 20-21 general election.

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