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> 2013-06-17 18:40:51
EU urges investigation as Czech premier resigns
(Vatican Radio) The European Union has urged the Czech Republic to properly investigate a massive spying and corruption case in the Czech Republic amid concerns about possible fraud with EU subsidies.
The European Commission, the EU's executive, is closely following the mounting tensions in the Czech Republic, where Prime Minister Petr Necas was forced to resign Monday over the biggest scandal since Czech independence in 1993.
His close personal aid and office head, Jana Nagyova, was charged with bribery and ordering military intelligence chiefs to spy on the prime minister's estranged wife.
It also emerged that Necas apparently saw illegally taken spy photos of his wife, before police raided government offices to investigate the case.
Nagyova’s lawyer said his client has denied wrongdoing and claims she somehow received the pictures. She allegedly showed them to the prime minister teary-eyed to warn him that his wife "might be coming under the influence of [the] Jehovah's Witnesses" sect.
Yet, media claim she and Necas began a romantic relationship – charges they both strongly deny.
Nagyova and at least seven other officials are also charged with bribery and abuse of office. European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly told reporters that Brussels demands a proper investigation.
"We do expect that the rule of law and the provisions that exist in the Czech Republic to respect private life will be fully respected," he stressed. "But it is really a matter for the Czech authorities, the Czech police and the Czech courts that this principles are fully respected."
Bailly made clear there is also concern about possible fraud with EU money in a nation that already lost 450 million euros in European subsidies after suspicious tenders.
"There are contacts between the services in charge of regional funds within the Commission and if during the investigation there are some elements that make clear that there is fraud with the structural funds in the Czech Republic, we will have to investigate also at our level," Bailly added.
Czech hooded police seized $7.5 million in cash and tens of kilograms of gold in 31 raids in different parts of the country.
The scandal comes as a major setback for the 48-year-old Necas, who vowed to clean up the reputation of his ODS Party, following previous corruption scandals. Commentators say his main achievements was a church restitution bill for properties seized under Communism and reforms of the pension system.
Necas said he hopes his centre-right three-party coalition can continue with another leader until elections next year, but the opposition demands an early vote.
Listen to the report by Stefan Bos: