News / Europe

Corruption Scandal Ousts Czech PM

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Necas speaks during a press briefing in Warsaw June 16, 2013.
Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Necas speaks during a press briefing in Warsaw June 16, 2013.
Selah Hennessy
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said he is resigning over a corruption and spying scandal that has rocked the small European Union nation.

Czech President Milos Zeman has said the charges, brought after armed police raids on government and private offices last week, were "serious."

Police raided government and private offices, seizing up to $8 million in cash, large amounts of gold and documents.  

On Monday, people in the capital Prague said they were pleased Necas had decided to step down.

Pavel Jirsa said the resignation was a necessary step and Necas has done the right thing. And Irena Piknova said the move has come too late and it should have been done sooner. She said the prime minister should have known what is happening around him.

In a March poll, the Czech Republic's Public Opinion Research Center found that around three-quarters of Czechs think most or almost all public officials are entangled in corruption.

Czechs said they consider political parties and ministries the most corrupt institutions.

Radim Bures, who heads the Czech chapter of the corruption watchdog Transparency International, said the allegations shed a spotlight on public corruption in the Czech Republic but says there is also good news.

"It is also very positive sign that the police and the state prosecution follow the rule of law and that is a very important sign for the future of my country," he said.

Following the raid, the prime minister's chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, was charged with corruption and abuse of power. Police said she is accused of ordering the military intelligence to spy on people including, it is believed, the outgoing prime minister's estranged wife.

Detectives also said Nagyova bribed members of parliament with offers of positions in state-owned companies.

Half a dozen others, including military intelligence heads and former members of Parliament, have also been charged.

The ruling coalition is set to elect a new leader to form a government. If approved by the country's president, the coalition could rule until elections next year.

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