Prague, Aug 1 (CTK) – The new 870-strong Czech National Centre against Organised Crime (NCOZ), established by the merger of the police organised crime and corruption squads within a reform, started working yesterday.
Its establishment caused a rift between the two major government parties, the Social Democrats (CSSD) of PM Bohuslav Sobotka and the ANO movement of Finance Minister Andrej Babis, which threatened to leave the government.
The police leadership defends the change and believes that the new body will more effectively fight crime if directed from one place.
“Terrorism and cyber crime are among the main priorities, these two categories of crime are unfortunately on the rise and they must be fought efficiently,” Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) said in a press release yesterday.
He and the NCOZ’s management will announce the centre’s priorities on Thursday.
The new NCOZ is headed by Michal Mazanek. His deputies are Jaroslav Vild, Milan Komarek and Petr Voprsal.
The centre is divided into four sections: corruption and serious economic crime, terrorism and extremism, organised crime and cyber crime.
Its spokesman is Jaroslav Ibehej, who worked as the spokesman for the corruption police and at the police command in the past.
The police reform provoked a conflict on the political scene.
Chovanec signed the reform despite disagreement of ANO that mainly expressed fears of halting the investigation into serious cases. The police chiefs dismissed the fears.
State attorneys criticised the police shake-up as well. Police President Tomas Tuhy and Chovanec said all of their comments had been taken into consideration.
The new centre will be also continuously dealing with technical and organisational matters.
“Further planned steps in the police restructuring will be taken after consultations with experts not only from the police and representatives of the Supreme State Attorneys’ Office will also participate in them,” the Interior Ministry said yesterday.
It si considering establishing the financial police, which was abolished in the past, within the new centre.
One of the strongest critics of the reform is former police organised crime unit (UOOZ) head, Robert Slachta, who left the corps in protest against it as of June 30.
State attorneys are checking a suspicion that the reform is nothing but an old plan for removing Slachta.
Slachta might fill a post in the management of the Customs Authority whose powers have been extended to include the investigation into crimes. However, the Finance Ministry, under which customs officers come, has not talked to Slachta about it yet.
Some complaints have been filed in connection with the reform. One slander complaint targets former police Jiri Komarek, from the UOOZ squad’s branch in Ostrava, north Moravia, who has accused Police President Tuhy of “brutal” leaks from files. Komarek, for his part, filed a complaint against Tuhy, his deputy Zdenek Laube and Chovanec. Komarek considers the restructuring sabotage.
The Chamber of Deputies investigative commission is also looking into the police reform.