Czech justice minister sacks her deputy amid dispute over tender


17.06.2014 18:06

Prague - Czech Justice Minister Helena Valkova (ANO) today dismissed Pavel Stern (Social Democrats, CSSD) as her deputy in charge of prisons and penal affairs amid their dispute over a tender for e-bracelets worn by house-arrest convicts, the ministry announced on its website.


Ministryně spravedlnosti Helena Válková zastavila tendr na elektronické náramky pro domácí vězně. V tiskové zprávě uvedla, že má pochybnosti o transparentnosti řízení. Její náměstek pro vězeňství Pavel Štern (společně s Válkovou na snímku z února 2014) jí prý totiž odmítl poskytnout k výběrovému řízení podrobnější informace. Právě Štern dnes v souvislosti s tendrem podal trestní oznámení u protikorupční policie. ČTK Šimánek Vít

In the past days, Stern refused to give Valkova details on the above tender and he turned to anti-corruption police in this connection. He said Valkova tried to gain information about the tender that she is not entitled to.

Valkova reacted by scrapping the tender over a lack of transparency.

The Probation and Mediation Service, which organised the tender, called its scrapping an "unfortunate and unnecessary" step and Valkova´s arguments "unacceptable."

Stern confirmed for CTK that he has been informed about his dismissal.

Stern has been offered another post at the ministry, but he will not accept it. He does not know what he will do now, but he wants to publicly defend his reputation, he said.

Speaking to journalists earlier today, Valkova said she would sack Stern because he initiated a CSSD-approved manoeuvre to unseat her as minister.

She said President Milos Zeman whom he met at Prague Castle this afternoon has expressed support to her.

In the past weeks, Valkova ran into a dispute with the first deputy justice minister Hana Marvanova, who eventually left the ministry.

Valkova´s conflict with Stern broke out shortly afterwards.

Stern lodged a criminal complaint with the police against Valkova´s steps concerning the above tender.

"If he had discussed his move beforehand with the CSSD, which he has admitted..., it seems to be an expedient manoeuvre," Valkova said.

She said she is convinced that she did nothing against the public interest.

Valkova said she would not resign in spite of her repeated conflicts with her subordinates.

Valkova was today backed by the ANO deputies´ group, though ANO´s influential chairman and Finance Minister Andrej Babis reacted more reservedly.

Babis admitted that the situation is unpleasant and said he will seek an explanation from those involved.

"Mr Stern does not enjoy my support. He should have solved the situation otherwise. His method is absurd and unacceptable," Babis said still before Stern was sacked.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD), too, said he is worried about the emergence of new problems at the Justice Ministry.

"Unfortunately, the situation at the [Justice] ministry has not calmed down, in spite of the promises given by Mr Babis and the minister...As a coalition partner, the CSSD minds the repeated public disputes between Ms Valkova and her subordinates," Sobotka told CTK.

Unlike him, Zeman told Valkova that she should not allow herself to be discouraged and that she should persist, Valkova told reporters.

Stern has been backed by CSSD deputies´ group head Roman Vana.

"Judging by the information Mr Stern has given to me, I think his decision was correct and the only possible," Vana said today.

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