Prague, June 9 (CTK) – Possible suspicions that the planned reorganisation of Czech police might affect open cases should be refuted by the police and the interior minister but there is no need for the government parties to hold conciliation proceedings about the plan, Deputy PM Pavel Belobradek told CTK yesterday.
Belobradek, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (KDU-CSL), reacted to the decision that conciliation proceedings be held between the three coalition parties next Wednesday over the plan of a merger of the police’s organised crime squad (UOOZ) and the anti-corruption squad (UOKFK).
The two squads are to merge to form a single National Centre against Organised Crime (NCOZ).
Finance Minister Andrej Babis’s ANO movement previously voiced doubts about the project and asked for the conciliation proceedings.
Some speculate that the changes are to unseat UOOZ head Robert Slachta whose subordinates are investigating many sensitive cases.
The plan, prepared by the police and promoted by Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD), has also been challenged by state attorneys including Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman.
Zeman’s opinion remained unchanged after his meeting with Chovanec and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) yesterday, Zeman told journalists.
A few days ago, Zeman wrote to Sobotka and Chovanec that he is afraid that the quality of the police performance would decline as a result of the merger.
The merger will create a large police corps which it will not be possible to effectively direct, he wrote.
“My opinion remains unchanged,” he told CTK yesterday, adding that his meeting with Sobotka and Chovanec was an exchange of opinions.
Sobotka said on Wednesday that the changes in the police are fully within the power of the police president and the interior minister as this is a most specialist matter. Politicians should not interfere in technical and organisational aspects of the police functioning. The police must be independent, Sobotka said.
Belobradek said his approach is in harmony with law.
“The police are independent and the police president should not act based on politicians’ will,” Belobradek said.
He said a possible merger of the UOOZ and the UOKFK is a sensitive step, which is why it is necessary to refute all suspicions that it might threaten the investigation of open cases and paralyse the anti-corruption unit.
“This [refuting] seems to be up to the interior minister or the police president now,” Belobradek said.
According to him, a standard coalition meeting should be held.
The coalition agreement describes conciliation proceedings as an instrument to be applied in situations such as a coalition deadlock or if the coalition agreement is violated, Belobradek argued.
“The police president is neither a part of the coalition agreement nor a member of any coalition party…I believe the police president and his decision are not a part of the coalition cooperation agenda,” Belobradek said.
He refused to speculate what impact the planned merger may have and whether the government coalition could disintegrate over it.