2. května 2014 | Prize for Courage

Ondřej Závodský

Ondřej Závodský was appointed in July 2005 head of the Legal Department of the Interior Ministry Service Establishment (ZSMV). After repeatedly pointing out miscellaneous suspect agreements he was demoted in September 2010 to the position of junior officer. A colleague who helped him analyse public contracts and expose a corrupt environment was fired.

Following his demotion, Ondřej Závodský forwarded evidence to Interior Minister Radek John but never received an answer. The police did not react, either. Caught in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, he received sometimes quite ruthless anonymous threats to himself and his family. He devoted a lot of time to legal defence. His story caught the fancy of the media.

Eventually, the perseverance of blind lawyer Ondřej Závodský played a pivotal role in the decision to subject the Interior Ministry to an all-out audit. The probe revealed many errors and irregularities concerning the award of public contracts: the ministry had repeatedly addressed one and the same group of contractors, some of whom supplied products which had nothing to do with the object of their business and were sold for higher prices than stipulated by the contract. Conflict of interests and other irregularities were found. Several criminal complaints were filed on the basis of the audit.

In February 2011 Ondřej Závodský lived to see some satisfaction: he was offered his original position of head of the organization’s legal department and his supervisor was fired. However, the case has not yet been properly resolved and no other personnel changes were made, as would ensue from the logic of the case.

In spring 2011, the Anticorruption Endowment awarded dauntless lawyer Ondřej Závodský a Prize for Courage with a cheque for 100,000 CZK. In addition the Anticorruption Endowment has given him legal and public support and continues to monitor the case.