Bublan defends approach of police during arrests over alleged bribery attempt

03-10-2004

The interior minister, Frantisek Bublan, has defended the approach of the police during the arrest on Thursday of two men charged with trying to bribe an MP to bring down the government. Lobbyist Jan Vecerek was arrested at his home at 6 a.m., while Marek Dalik - assistant to the head of the Civic Democrats - was detained a couple of hours later. They were released on Friday after the state attorney rejected a police request to remand them in custody.

President Vaclav Klaus was one of several politicians who criticized the manner of the arrests, calling them "theatrical". However, speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Minister Bublan said politicians ought not to evaluate investigations while they were still taking place.

MP Zdenek Koristka says Mr Dalik and Mr Vecerek, acting on behalf of Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, offered him 10 million crowns (around 300,000 euros) to bring down the government, which has a majority of just one, in a confidence vote. The main opposition party strenuously deny the allegation.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who Mr Topolanek has suggested is behind the whole affair, said on Sunday that whoever had a clear conscience had no reason to be "hysterical".