Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Prosecutors Seek to Lift Immunity in Czech Case

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Prosecutors Seek to Lift Immunity in Czech Case

Article excerpt

Prime Minister Petr Necas would be the highest-level official to face corruption charges in the country since the fall of communism.

Czech prosecutors asked Parliament on Monday to strip former Prime Minister Petr Necas of his immunity from prosecution, a request law enforcement officials said was a prelude to charging him with corruption.

Mr. Necas would be the highest-level official to face corruption charges in the country since the fall of communism. A bookish, churchgoing father of four who came to power in 2010 promising to clean up a culture of cronyism and corruption, he was forced to resign last month after police charged his chief of staff with bribery and abuse of office.

The chief of staff -- Jana Nagyova, a close confidante of the prime minister -- is accused of ordering the secret services to spy on Mr. Necas's estranged wife, whom he is divorcing. Ms. Nagyova has also been charged with offering bribes in the form of posts at state- owned companies to three members of Parliament who opposed a government austerity plan.

Prosecutors said they were examining whether Mr. Necas had links to the bribery scheme, which some analysts and supporters of Mr. Necas have dismissed as the routine trading of political favors rather than a criminal act.

Mr. Necas said on Monday that no agreement had been made with the three lawmakers, and that in any case political agreements could not be considered crimes.

"It is not clear to me what I should be charged with," he said in a statement. "So far, all the information we have shows that this whole case is about criminalizing political decisions. …

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