Anti-corruption boss ‘obstructed Bárta probe’

Former anti-corruption inspectors accuse head of unit of obstructing investigation into suspected corruption in Public Affairs party.

Two former police inspectors from the anti-corruption unit have filed a criminal complaint against the new head of the unit, Tomáš Martinec, who was appointed by former Interior Minister Radek John, the Public Affairs (VV) chairman who was forced to leave the post in April. They claim Martinec intentionally obstructed the investigation into alleged payment of bribes by John’s party colleague Vít Bárta.    

Former anti-corruption investigators Zdeněk Tomica and Tomáš Krůl claim Martinec obstructed the investigation into suspected payment of bribes by de fact VV chiarman Vít Bárta to party colleagues in return for confidentiality and loyalty by treating the case as suspected tax fraud as opposed to corruption. Further, the two say that delays in launching the investigation and questioning witnesses may have enabled the suspects to fabricate false evidence and coordinate an alibi, the daily Hospodářstvi noviny (HN) reported Friday.

“The suspects may have had an opportunity to properly prepare a defense and create the contracts aimed at creating the impression of legal conduct, and prepare other instruments for their defense,” Tomica and Krůl claim write in the criminal complaint, a copy of which was passed to HN. The decision to investigate the case as suspected tax evasion is controversial because it infers that the suspects are those who accepted the payments, not Bárta, the daily said.

Two VV MPs, Jarosl?v Škárka and Kristýna Kočí, claims he received regular “cash for loyalty” payments from Bárta over a six-month period, while Kočí says she received a one-off payment of Kč 500,000 which she handed to police. The two left Public Affairs after making the allegations and reporting the case to the police.    

Bárta claims the cash he gave to Škárka and Kočí were personal loans.

According to Tomica and Krůl, police began investigating the case a week after the two former VV members filed their criminal complaints. The first reports about the suspect payments emerged on April 3 and on April 6 Kočí and Škárka filed criminal complaints against Vít Bárta. The heads of the anti-corruption unit formed a special investigation team on April and Škárka was questioned by investigators on April 15, and Kočí only on April 20.

“From the beginning the case is being investigated according to normal procedure,” anti-corruption unit head, Martinec, told HN in a text message from Thailand where he is holidaying.  

The criminal complaint has been passed to the Police Inspectorate for investigation.