- Hans Weber
- December 7, 2023
Former Czech Prime Minister and Accomplices Found Guilty in Bribery Case, Verdict Under Appeal
In a recent ruling, the Prague 1 District Court declared former Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas, his wife Jana Necasova (formerly Nagyova), and former deputy agriculture minister Roman Bocek guilty of engaging in corrupt practices. The defendants were found guilty of offering lucrative positions to members of the ODS (Civic Democratic Party) in exchange for bribes. However, the verdict has not yet taken effect, as Necas’s defense lawyer, Adam Cerny, immediately appealed the decision. The other defense lawyers and the public prosecutor are currently contemplating whether to appeal as well.
The charges leveled against the three defendants included bribery, which carries a maximum prison sentence of up to six years. The public prosecutor proposed suspended sentences and fines for the case. Despite the guilty verdict, all three defendants pleaded not guilty. The court ultimately handed Necas a 2.5-year suspended sentence and fined him CZK 1 million, while Necasova and Bocek received two-year suspended sentences and fines of CZK 300,000 each. Additionally, both Necas and Necasova were barred from holding high-ranking positions in state administration for a decade.
The case, which originated from a police raid on the Government Office in 2013, contributed to the downfall of the Necas government. According to the indictment, Necas, Nagyova, and Bocek promised ODS MPs Marek Snajdr, Petr Tluchor, and Ivan Fuksa prestigious posts in return for their resignation from the lower house of parliament. The resignation of these MPs was intended to facilitate the passage of a government tax package that they had previously opposed. Following the successful passage of the package, Snajdr assumed the chairmanship of the supervisory board of the state company Cepro, while Fuksa became a member of the board of directors of Czech Aeroholding.
The court panel chairwoman, Anezka Pudilova, stated that the facts of the case were incontrovertibly proven, citing not only wiretap recordings but also other evidence. Pudilova emphasized that the defendants’ conversations with the “rebel MPs” revealed a transition from regular political negotiations to a more informal and clearly conspiratorial level. The judge highlighted Necasova’s motivation through a text message in which she asserted her efforts to maintain political power. The court also acknowledged the lengthy duration of the prosecution process as a mitigating factor in its sentencing.
While the defense lawyer for Necas argued against the court’s conclusions and legal assessment, claiming there was no bribe involved, he also deemed the imposed sentence to be overly severe. This is not the first legal issue involving Necas, as he was previously convicted in May for providing false testimony on behalf of his wife in a case related to abuse of power. He became the first former Czech prime minister to be convicted in a criminal case.
The police raid and subsequent fallout from the Necas government had a profound impact on the domestic political landscape, leading to the emergence of new parties such as Andrej Babis’s ANO movement and Tomio Okamura’s far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party. The incident also eroded trust in existing mainstream parties, including the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats, while President Milos Zeman utilized the opportunity to appoint a caretaker government. The case sparked significant turmoil in Czech politics and continues to shape the country’s political landscape.
Article by Prague Forum
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- Hans Weber
- December 7, 2023