Czech corruption scandal widens
PRAGUE — A multi-pronged scandal involving the prime minister's top aide, his estranged wife, military spy chiefs, former ruling party lawmakers and kilograms of gold raised unanswered questions on Friday about the troubled government of Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas.
Nobody outside the halls of Czech power seems to know what's going on or how the rapidly moving developments are connected, but a list of them reads like elements in a spy novel:
• The Czech military was spying on the prime minister's estranged wife.
• Millions of dollars and a stash of gold bars were seized by hooded police in 31 raids nationwide.
• Seven people have been charged with abuse of power or corruption, according to prosecutors.
Czechs, who have grown used to corruption scandals since the fall of communism — including a former defense minister asking the U.S. ambassador for a $5 million bribe — are watching the developments with bewilderment.
Czech police and prosecutors said on Friday they believe Necas' closest aide ordered a military intelligence agency to spy on three people, vastly overstepping her authority.
Prosecutor Ivo Istvan said that Jana Nagyova, the head of the prime minister's office, has been charged with abuse of power, and six others face charges of abuse of power or corruption.
The opposition is calling for Necas to stand down and for early elections to be held. He has refused their demands and, so far, has the backing of his coalition partners.
Necas announced earlier this week that he and his wife Radka filed for divorce. Tabloid newspapers have speculated about an affair between him and Nagyova.