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Ex-governor among those suspected of misusing EU subsidies

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Usti nad Labem, North Bohemia, Dec 13 (CTK) – The 24 people whom Czech police suspect of misusing EU subsidies, who have been detained and face criminal prosecution include Jana Vanhova (Social Democrats, CSSD), former governor of the Usti Region, her defence lawyer has told the server Lidovky.cz.

Law enforcement bodies are enquiring into suspicious steps of the council of the Czech North-West cohesion region, Tomas Minx, attorney from the High State Attorney’s Office in Prague, who supervises the case, said on Tuesday.

According to CTK’s sources, the suspects also include Jiri Cervinka, who was interim head of the North-West Regional Operational Programme (ROP) Office in 2011.

Other former members of the council, Jakub Panik and Petr Navratil (both CSSD), might have been detained as well, since neither of them have answered their phone on Tuesday.

Vanhova, 61, who was Usti Region Governor in 2008-2012, was simultaneously a member of the North-West cohesion region council, which had the final say on distributing EU subsidies among local projects.

From 2012 to October 2016, she was deputy governor of the Usti Region.

She was a deputy chairwoman of the CSSD, now the senior government party of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, from 2005 to 2009.

Asked to comment on the ROP North-West affair, Sobotka told journalists on Tuesday that the problems of the ROP Office relate to the past, not to the present time, from the CSSD’s point of view.

“It is a remote past, unrelated to the present government’s mandate,” Sobotka said, adding that ROP has been accompanied by numerous problems.

“Our government has changed the system of drawing European money in the meantime. I hope that the twists and turns will not repeat within the present system,” Sobotka said.

In the past, the CSSD led a left-right coalition government in 2002-2006. Sobotka’s government, also including ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), has been in power since January 2014.

Sobotka would not speculate about the names of the detained.

“It is up to the police to do their job,” he said.

Vanhova’s partner was businessman Roman Houska, an influential CSSD member who was shot dead in front of their house in Usti nad Labem in November 2013. Former soldier Michal Krnac has been found guilty of the murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Since 2005, Vanhova has been a member of the Chomutov town assembly.

The North-West cohesion region encompasses two of the Czech Republic’s 14 self-rule regions – Usti nad Labem and Karlovy Vary.

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