Bradáčová appointed high state attorney

It took weeks for the new Justice Minister Pavel Blažek to decide but in the end, on Monday, he appointed state attorney Lenka Bradáčová high state attorney at the state prosecutor’s office in Prague. Her candidacy – and fearless reputation as a prosecutor – sparked controversy within the government and namely within the ruling Civic Democratic Party, suspected by some of trying to stall or derail her appointment.

Lenka BradáčováLenka Bradáčová I spoke to political analyst Jiří Pehe and asked why the appointment of someone so respected had proved so problematic.

“I think that the political drama surrounding Lenka Bradáčová was caused to a large extent by internal conflicts within the government as well as the Civic Democratic Party. There were groups within the latter that were indeed afraid of Lenka Bradáčová, either because of they thought she was too close to the Social Democratic Party in the past, or because they feared that as the high state attorney she would re-open cases they long considered closed. That was, I think, the main source of tension. Quite clearly Minister Blažek was under a lot of political pressure not to name her but in the end he couldn’t find enough reasons to avoid doing so. So he had to go along and meet the supreme state attorney’s recommendation.”

Her reputation as an anti-corruption ‘crusader’ certainly precedes Ms Bradáčová; it is fair to say that those who feared her before have every reason to fear her now?

Justice Minister Pavel Blažek, photo: CTKJustice Minister Pavel Blažek, photo: CTK “Well first I wouldn’t say she was a crusader; in my view she is simply a member of a new generation – in the minority in the Czech judiciary – who wants to do things in a different way and to follow the letter of the law. She wants cases that need to be investigated to be investigated and that is obviously why some people fear her: she doesn’t want to sweep anything under the carpet as happened in the past.”

“In this sense, her appointment was one ‘battle’ but another will be reforming the system of state attorneys: one of those reforms was the idea that a specialised unit be created to investigate and combat corruption. This is exactly the kind of idea that some politicians are very much afraid of and it may be one of the main reasons Blažek replaced Pospíšil and was brought in as justice minister – to prevent this kind of reform.”

What are her chances of succeeding against the odds? Will she able to push through changes on her watch?

“I certainly hope she will bring some changes. She was the first regional attorney to successfully bring charges against a high-level politician (former regional governor David Rath). So there will be expectations and some hope: that she can re-open cases that need reopening or turn around how the state prosecutor’s office operated before now.”