Elite detective charged over illegal wiretaps of ABL rival

Ex-detective in police unit for combating organized crime allegedly ordered illegal wiretaps on security firm SSI managers

Tom Jones 12.3.2012

Kateřina Varvařovská is the third ant=organiyed crime detective to be charged with abuse of office over the wire tap affair foto: © ČESKÁ POZICE, Richard CortésČeská pozice

Kateřina Varvařovská is the third ant=organiyed crime detective to be charged with abuse of office over the wire tap affair

A third current or former member of the Czech police unit for combating organized crime (ÚOOZ) has been charged with illegally gathering information. Kateřina Varvařovská, who has been suspended from her current position as elite detective with the Central Bohemia region’s police force, faces abuse of office charges, the daily Mladá fronta dnes reports.

“In breach of the law [Varvařovská] ordered transcriptions of telephone conservations of Prague businessmen,” Czech Police Inspectorate spokeswoman Radka Sandorová told MfD, adding that Varvařovská has been released on bail. 

Those wiretapped by Varvařovská — managers of the security firm SSI — claim that business rival ABL, founded by the Czech parliamentarian and de facto leader of Public Affairs party (VV) Vít Bárta, now on trial for bribery, was behind the plot. 

In September 2010, MfD reported that a former ABL detective, Pavel Pertlíček, had conducted surveillance on local politicians in the Prague 11, including the head of the center-right Civic Democrats (ODS) in the district, Marta Šorfová, and reported his findings to ABL’s management. At the time Bárta, who had recently taken up the post of transport minister, dismissed the report but refused to answer questions from the press.

In January 2011, MfD published more documents supporting the claims, including video footage and photos of Šorfová taken from the street in front of her home in 2007.

Eavesdropping at ÚOOZ

Last June, Marian Hudec of the Foreign Police in the Varnsdorf district, northern Bohemia, who also previously worked in ÚOOZ, was charged with illegally ordering wiretaps. Investigators established that he had ordered taps on a total of 69 telephone numbers of politicians, judges, lawyers and journalists including the Chairman of the Constitutional Court Pavel Rychetský, head of the Czech President’s office Jiří Weigl, and presidential aide Ladislav Jakl.

According to sources cited by MfD, following an inconclusive investigation into Hudec detectives began to investigate whether he had accomplices and their findings led to Varvařovská and private detective Michal Kondla, also a former ÚOOZ detective. The transcripts of wiretaps arranged by Hudec and Varvařovská were reportedly forwarded to Kondla.

MfD reports the Police Inspectorate have now filed fresh charges against Hudec and Kondla as a result of their investigation into Varvařovská. The daily said the three charged are not cooperating with the investigation.

Hudec and Varvařovská have reportedly been charged with ordering wiretaps on four top managers from the firm SSI in 2009 and 2010. “I’m convinced that this relates to a campaign by the competition. We’re a direct competitor of ABL,” SSI’s executive director Martin Vodrážka said.       

After winning a seat in parliament in the summer of 2010, Vít Bárta sold the ABL agency to his younger brother Matěj.