Czech anti-organized crime police and officials from the High Public Prosecution Service in Olomouc raided the offices of the Supreme State Prosecution Service in Brno and the Highest Public Prosecution Service in Prague on Wednesday in search of evidence relating to the leak of testimony and names in the investigation into alleged solicitation of bribes by top Czech politicians in an arms deal with the Austrian company Steyr.
“The inspectorate of the Public Prosecution Service ordered the [police] Anti-Organized Crime Unit to investigate and at the same time we requested the relevant court for permission to search non-residential premises, namely those offices where there could Other witnesses who testified on condition of anonymity have reportedly said they will not repeat their testimony in court.have been manipulation of the information that was leaked,” Ivo Ištvan, the High State Prosecutor for Olomouc, told Czech Television (ČT) on Wednesday afternoon.
Anti-organized crime investigators are treating the leak of names of witnesses as suspected abuse of office by a state official. In May, the Czech dailies Právo and Mladá Fronta Dnes (MfD) published testimony by a former manager of the US-owned Austrian arms producer Steyr Mannlicher, which in 2008 signed a contract worth Kč 14.4 billion with the Czech Ministry of Defense to deliver 107 Pandur armored personnel carriers (APCs).
In his testimony, former Steyr manger Stephan Szücs said that in 2007 Marek Dalík, a controversial lobbyist and close friend of former prime minister Mirek Topolánek, asked Steyr representatives for a payment of €18 million (around Kč 460 million) to ensure that the deal went through.
Fear of revenge
According to the Czech weekly Respekt, following the disclosure of his name Szücs is now in hiding for fear of revenge — and it is not certain if he will testify in court. The weekly also reported that there are other witnesses who testified on condition of anonymity who have reportedly said they will not repeat their testimony in court.
Czech and Austrian police and launched a joint investigation into suspected corruption in the Pandur deal in July 2010.
The Supreme State Prosecution Service on May 13 ordered the High State Prosecution Service in Olomouc to investigate the case, two days after the information was leaked, the Supreme State Prosecution Service said in a statement released after the raid of its offices, adding that it could not announce the launch of the investigation at the time in order to safeguard their actions and enquiries.
The Supreme State Prosecution Service spokeswoman, Helena Markusová, told Czech Position that it was the Chief of the Supreme State Prosecution Service, Pavel Zeman, who ordered the investigation. She added that he was in regular contact with his Austrian counterpart to keep him informed about the investigation into the leak. “Of course, confidence in the Czech side of the investigation has been undermined, but the State Prosecution Service is in constant communication with the Austrian side, and hopefully the matter will be resolved soon,” Markusová added.