Czech interior minister seeks grounds to sack police president

The Czech Republic’s top policeman is now firmly in the sights of the interior minister, who is seeking grounds for his dismissal

Czech Police president Petr Lessy warns the force cannot continue to function as it has nationwide because of cuts | na serveru Lidovky.cz | aktuální zprávy Czech Police president Petr Lessy warns the force cannot continue to function as it has nationwide because of cuts | foto: © ČTKČeská pozice
Czech Police president Petr Lessy warns the force cannot continue to function as it has nationwide because of cuts

The Czech Republic’s top policeman, police president Petr Lessy, is facing growing pressure and activity from Minister of Interior Jan Kubice (non-aligned) aimed at forcing him to step down.

Kubice is, according to Thursday’s edition of the Czech daily Lidové Noviny, seeking to collect information which would make it easier to shoehorn police president Lessy out of his post.

The focus for his actions are, according to the paper, the bizarre fashion in which a specially established selection committee, put together by former Public Affairs (VV) minister of the interior Radek John,  picked out Lessy for the top post in January 2011.  

The police union representative on Lessy’s selection committee, Milan Štěpánek, who in the past has attacked the process as being manipulated, could now be willing to give formal evidence which could help provide the grounds for sacking the police president, the paper suggests.   

Lessy’s appointment was the subject of a fierce clash between the three parties in the center-right coalition with Prime Minister Petr Nečas eventually giving way to John’s favorite filling the post.

No protection

But John’s influence over what happens at the interior ministry has now disappeared. He was replaced by Kubice as minister in April 2011, with the latter quickly sacking most of the deputy ministers in place.

With the cancellation of the former three-way coalition in recent days and Prime Minister Petr Nečas now seeking to create a new partnership with the breakaway faction of VV headed by Karolína Peake, John’s ability to protect Lessy has evaporated altogether.

What’s more Kubice and Lessy appear to have a sweet and sour relationship, which is mostly, however, on the sour side. The police president angered Kubice in December last year by publicly attacking proposed changes to the functioning of the force drawn up by the interior ministry and warning that the force could be shrunk to levels where it can no longer function. Afterwards, Kubice called for Lessy to resign. The relationship was patched up after Lessy agreed to some posts being cut which he had previously refused to consider.

While an interior minister needs proof of some wrongdoing to sack a police president, pressure can exerted so that the police boss feels he has no alternative but to go. That was the case of Lessy’s predecessor Oldřich Martinů whom John clearly wanted to be rid of.