Case of Justice

Czech justice octopus and how far it can reach

What’s the case all about?

The Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK) released on July 16th a second edition of “beach reading”, this time focusing on clientelism and depravity in the Czech judicial system. Cases from the last fifteen years serve to illustrate efforts—and not only by political figures and lobbyists—to influence the course of Czech justice and at the same time also the preparedness of certain senior court officials, judges and public prosecutors to favourably respond to such prompts. We also briefly touch upon the current problems associated with insolvency procedures.

Our book has four chapters, entitled as follows: Pavel Němec—A Young Man of Influence; Jaroslav Bureš—From Gown to Politics and Then Back; Jan Sváček—A Judiciary Official with Contacts, and Pavel Kučera—A Judge Who Lost Sober Judgement. Two supplements introduce the reader to a brief description of the problem of “doctored” insolvency proceedings and the chronology of the case of bankruptcy mafia controlled by Justice Jiří Berka, which is briefly discussed also in the introductory text.

Readers can refresh their memory of Pavel Němec’s stint in the post of minister of justice ten years ago (for example, his dedicated effort to prevent the sentencing of a Prince of Qatar in this country), or his role in the growth of colossal executor business (from which Němec will also profit). Our allusions further point out his role in influencing the criminal prosecution of a former deputy prime minister of the Topolánek cabinet (see Judiciary Mafia). Several examples of public procurement practices are used to illustrate interaction between Němec’s law firm and the government ministries where he was previously active; we also state financial sums from 2009-2014, invoiced by his law agency to many state and public institutions.                

The second chapter dwells on the record of Jaroslav Bureš—a former judge turned minister of justice turned presidential hopeful, the man whom President Václav Klaus unsuccessfully nominated for deputy chairman of the Supreme Court but who later filled the post of Vice President of the Prague High Court and has been its President since January 2013. Mentioned here are his efforts to subordinate justice to political power, his close ties with President Klaus, his liaison with miscellaneous lobbyists (Martin Ulčák), as well as his original support to the insolvency bill. Also cited is the role of the “Bureš” High Court in a case when a thousand people were robbed of an estimated one billion crowns.    

The third chapter harks back to the longtime chairman of the Prague City Court, Jan Sváček, and his many contacts with political figures, entrepreneurs and lobbyists. We recall the role of a Sváček-planted bankruptcy manager of the company KEY INVESTMENTS and give an account of that court’s role in a case when about 1,000 people lost a billion crowns and a bank lost some 800 million CZK.

The final chapter briefly debates the longtime deputy chairman of the Supreme Court, Pavel Kučera, whom the late Ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, once described as a “disgrace” to all the justice system. We recall Kučera’s role in the “justice mafia” case, the circumstances that led to disciplinary proceedings against him, his interaction with Jaroslav Bureš, and his presence in the Prague Castle corridors of power before and during Václav Klaus’s election to the post of President of the Republic.      

“The profession of judge traditionally enjoys high prestige in the public eyes, although it wasn’t always so in the past and often there was no reason for that to boot. Few people have been a greater disappointment since November 1989 than some protagonists of Czech justice. Just like some prosecutors and judges [of the past era] were prepared to send innocent people to the gallows, some of their successors continued to serve their new masters after 1989. General disrespect for order, decency and ethics is the result of that. We hope the bold and the sane will make amends, by their work, to the sour reputation of some of their colleagues from the era of clientelist symbiosis with politicians, lobbyists and criminals,” notes Anticorruption Endowment director Petr Soukenka.

Downloadable documents (in Czech)