Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Marriage by Ex-Leader Snarls Czech Graft Inquiry ; New Wife, a Key Figure in Investigation, Now Cannot Be Forced to Testify

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Marriage by Ex-Leader Snarls Czech Graft Inquiry ; New Wife, a Key Figure in Investigation, Now Cannot Be Forced to Testify

Article excerpt

Former Prime Minister Petr Necas of the Czech Republic and his onetime chief of staff were married in a secret ceremony, a move variously seen as a touching love story or a ploy to avoid prosecution.

Former Prime Minister Petr Necas of the Czech Republic and his onetime chief of staff, ensnared in the most exhaustive anticorruption sting operation in the Czech Republic since the fall of communism, were married in a secret ceremony on Saturday, the Czech media reported on Tuesday. The move was variously viewed by analysts as a touching love story or a cynical ploy to avoid prosecution.

In June, Mr. Necas, 48, resigned after his chief of staff and mistress, Jana Nagyova, was charged with using the country's secret intelligence service to spy on Mr. Necas's wife, whom he divorced in August. Ms. Nagyova was also accused of trying to bribe three members of Parliament, who opposed a government austerity plan, with offers of posts in state-owned companies.

But on Tuesday, Ms. Nagyova dealt prosecutors a blow when she walked into a police station in Prague and introduced herself as Mrs. Jana Necasova, her lawyer, Eduard Bruna, told the Czech media. Under Czech law, family members cannot be compelled to testify against one another, and analysts said this could make it difficult for prosecutors to prove that any order to offer bribes came from the former prime minister.

Jaroslav Plesl, deputy editor of Tyden, a leading political magazine, said Tuesday that the marriage could prove a potent legal weapon for the newlyweds.

"The heart of the bribery case has been whether she was acting alone or on behalf of Mr. Necas, and now it will be very difficult to prove whether he was giving her directions," he said by phone from Prague, adding, "That does not negate the fact that they are also very much in love."

Over the past several days, the Czech media have speculated that Mr. Necas and Ms. Nagyova married in a secret ceremony after they were spotted at Chateau Mcely, a 17th-century chateau near Prague with a manicured English park, a spa and a lake with a white sand beach. Tabloids have been offering big rewards for recent photographs or videos of the couple.

The two had been engaged for years in a surreptitious relationship that Mr. Necas finally acknowledged in July, telling Tyden that being romantically involved with a senior aide while he was prime minister was a bad idea. "Interconnecting a personal relationship with a working relationship is simply not correct, and I knew that," he told the magazine, saying that the heart had won out over the head. …

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