Police unit head allegedly tipped off crime suspect

Head of Czech police for combating organized crime Robert Šlachta allegedly warned a former subordinate about his imminent arrest

Head of the ÚOOZ police unit combating organized crime, Robert Šlachta foto: © ČTKČeská pozice

Head of the ÚOOZ police unit combating organized crime, Robert Šlachta

When detectives from the police unit for combating organized crime (ÚOOZ) raided the public prosecution service in Prague in connection with the exposure of a key witness in a corruption investigation, they found documents indicating their boss, Robert Šlachta, had tipped off a former ÚOOZ detective who faced arrest, the daily Právo reports.

In April, police arrested three men in connection with a tax evasion scam involving the export of scrap metal. However, the fourth suspected member of the group, Marian Hanák, the former ÚOOZ detective in question, fled and remains in hiding.

When detectives from ÚOOZ searched the offices of the public prosecution service in Prague in June in connection with the so-called Pandur affair, they found documents indicating that Šlachta tipped off Hanák about his imminent arrest, Právo said. According to the daily’s information, the Police Inspectorate is still investigating the suspected tipoff.

The ÚOOZ boss resolutely denies the allegations: “It’s absolute nonsense. The report [on me] was submitted anonymously and linked me to people whom I don’t even know,” Šlachta told Právo, adding he believes the allegations are the latest move in an attack against him that included someone setting up a bogus Facebook account in his name.

The spokeswoman for the state prosecution service in Prague, Irena Válová, confirmed that the service received a report about the alleged tipoff by Šlachta in June, but declined to comment on the case. Police Inspectorate chief Dušan Brunslík confirmed to Právo through his spokeswoman, Radka Sandorová, that his office is investigating the report, but refused to give any details.

Právo claims the investigators are treating the report of the alleged tipoff extremely seriously. “Somebody who knows the police environment and who has very good information wrote the report,” an anonymous source told the daily. 

The charges against the gang suspected of tax evasion through scrap metal exports say they caused damages to the state of Kč 26 million, though police said the actual damage was much higher.

ÚOOZ discovered the documents relating to the allegations against Šlachta while searching the offices of the Highest Public Prosecution Service in Prague for evidence relating to the leak to the press of the name of a key witness and other information in the investigation into alleged soliciting of bribes by Czech lobbyists and politicians related to the purchase of Austrian Pandur armored personnel carriers (APCs) by the Czech military from the firm Steyr.