Robert Šlachta, one of the Czech Republic’s most prominent law
enforcement officials for nearly three decades, has resigned from office.
Mr Šlachta headed a specialised police unit combatting organised crime (ÚOOZ) before leading the investigative branch of the General Directorate of Customs for three years.
He resigned as head of that unit in June 2016 in protest at what he described as a politically motivated shake up aimed at curbing his force’s effectiveness by merging it with another anti-corruption one.
A General Directorate of Customs spokesperson said Mr Šlachta has declined to comment on his decision but that it was not linked to his service at the Directorate.
Twenty-four people are now reported to have been charged in a massive tax
evasion scam involving 270 million crowns, according to a spokesperson for
the National Centre for Combating Organised Crime.
The charges against seven foreign nationals and 17 Czechs who operated fictitious companies came following a largescale operation in close to 60 sites across the Czech Republic. All except two of the suspects are currently being held in custody.
The several–month-long operation involved over 400 police and customs officers both at home and abroad. In simultaneous raids on homes and offices the police secured assets worth 68 million crowns and a number of illegally held weapons.
International terrorism, growing cyber threats and right-wing extremism are
the main challenges the Czech counterintelligence service BIS will have to
face in the immediate future, its head Michal Koudelka said in an interview
for the CTK news agency, on the occasion of the service’s 25th
He said the service was also having to counter the growing activities of foreign agents in the country. In recent years the service has reported on a growing number of Russian and Chinese agents in the country.
The head of the Czech counterintelligence service received a top award from America’s CIA earlier this year. He said the George Tenet Award, which recognises international cooperation, was a tribute to the work of the whole counterintelligence service.
A pensioner found guilty of terrorism after causing two train crashes aimed
at spreading fear of Muslim migrants has appealed his conviction, Czech
Jaromír Balda, aged 71, was sentenced in January to four years in prison and out-patient psychiatric treatment.
In 2017 he cut down trees on railway lines near Mladá Boleslav, causing crashes in which no one was injured.
He left leaflets at the scene purporting to be from Muslim terrorists claiming responsibility.
Officers from the country’s National Centre for Combatting Organized
Crime have proposed filing criminal charges against a former employee of
the Czech Export Bank who is believed to be responsible for two suspect
loans afforded to companies between 2007 and 2010 which resulted in damages
to the tune of 1.5 billion crowns. If charged and convicted the man could
face up to eight years in jail for abuse of position.
The Czech Export Bank and its mother company, the Export Insurance Company EGAP are still dealing with the effects of big losses incurred between 2007 and 2011 due to a number of dubious contracts, some of which are still under investigation.
One of the most highly-publicized cases was a series of loans to the tune of hundreds of millions of crowns afforded to Chinese companies for which five former managers have been charged.
A charity concert in support of the victims of the Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka will take place in Prague’s Hilton hotel on Saturday. The event, organised by the Czech Centres and the Catholic Charity, in cooperation with the Czech Foreign Ministry, will feature the Zlín Philharmonic Orchestra led by Prague-based Indian conductor Debashish Chaudhuri. The proceeds from the concert will go directly to the families affected by the attacks.
A court in Pardubice is hearing the case of a Czech man accused of
involvement in a terrorist attack on the territory of Ukraine in 2015.
The man allegedly visited Ukraine in the summer of that year and joined in the fighting on the side of separatists in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.
He joined the Czech Army soon after his return, but failed to pass psychological tests and was given a menial job in the force.
He claims he is innocent of the accusations, saying that he had made up stories and bragged about his time in Ukraine to friends.
Police President Jan Švejdar has said he considers cooperation between the
Pirate Party and an officer from the National Centre Against Organized
Crime absolutely unacceptable.
In a statement on Twitter the police president said that if it were confirmed that Jan Šmíd, a member of this special force, had cooperated with the Pirate Party he would be sacked.
The ruling ANO Party which brought attention to the alleged close cooperation between Šmíd and the Pirate Party, expressed concern regarding possible information leaks and asked the Security Committee of the Chamber of Deputies to look into the matter.
The committee is due to meet on May 21st.
The majority of the methamphetamine seized by the Czech police last year was produced by Vietnamese crime gangs. Indeed, almost 70 percent of the illegal drug impounded last year was Vietnamese- produced. Police say cultural differences and the language barrier make it harder to combat these activities.
Czech politicians have joined in the widespread international condemnation
of the tragic Easter attacks in Sri Lanka.
President Miloš Zeman called the attacks “monstrous”, offering heartfelt condolences to the families of those killed and injured. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš likewise expressed shock over the news saying an attack against believers who had come together to celebrate Easter Sunday was “unbelievable” and “unacceptable”.
Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček said he was appalled by the tragedy and stressed that the Czech government was ready to help in whatever way possible. Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček also condemned the attacks, offering condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery.
According to local police sources the number of people killed in the attacks has now reached 290 with at least 500 people injured.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said it had no news so far indicating that Czech nationals may have been among those killed or injured. It said any Czechs in need on the island should turn to the Czech Embassy in Delhi for help.