Coalition in police ‘shootout’ |

Coalition in police ‘shootout’

Coalition in police ‘shootout’
“We strongly protest against any efforts to seek to criminalise this reorganisation effort,” said police president Tomáš Tuhý (pictured)

Pavel Otto

A tabled reorganisation of the police service’s structure is severely straining the government coalition. It envisages merging the Organised Crime Unit [ÚOOZ] and the Corruption and Financial Crimes Unit [ÚOKFK] into one centralised body.

Ex-police president Oldřich Tomášek claimed the personnel at ÚOOZ had given up on tackling organised crime, and were instead focused only on an issue outside their purview, namely corruption. This had led to the two units effectively competing, often working on the same cases.

ANO leader Andrej Babiš threatened to go so far as to end the ruling coalition should interior minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrat) approve the proposals. “The reorganisation has not been thought through; it is a farce and police president [Tomáš Tuhý] should resign,” he said.

Interior ministry statistics stack up against Babiš’s fears that the departure of ÚOOZ chief Robert Šlachta could endanger the investigation of a number of high-profile scandals. Last year alone, the ÚOKFK began around 180 investigations, and charged more than 70 individuals with related crimes. The ÚOOZ pursued 35 cases, prosecuting the same number of suspects.

“I reject the claims of Andrej Babiš that one unit is good and the other bad,” said Chovanec. “It’s certainly not correct to say that anti-mafia unit ÚOOZ is the last functioning bastion of police anti-corruption oversight.”

Petr Gazdík, leader of the Mayors and Independents (STAN) party and deputy chair of the chamber of deputies for TOP 09, said the spat had no clear good guys or villains. “At a time when we face the possibility of a Brexit, a migrant crisis, and terrorism, to be focused on such nonsensical quarrels is truly foolish. The coalition government should think long and hard about what it is doing.”

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