The court acquitted the former deputy intelligence officer of charges of fraud and abuse of power

Court acquits former intelligence deputy of charges of fraud and abuse of power

Court files. Illustrative photo.

Prague – Today, the Prague City Court acquitted former deputy of the Office for Foreign Relations and Information (ÚZSI) Zdenek Blahut of fraud and abuse of authority. The public prosecutor claims that Blahut used the trust of the director of intelligence and the information he had as a deputy in order to obtain 190 million crowns from intelligence funds for himself and any other unidentified persons. According to the court, it was not a crime. Today's judgment is not final, the plaintiff has filed an appeal against it, which will be resolved by the High Court in Prague.

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The main trial in the case began last November. Due to the protection of classified information, it was conducted in private, with public participation only the public prosecutor initially read the indictment. Precisely because of the protection of secret information, today judge Petr Blažek justified his decision only in general terms. According to him, it was not proven that Blahut acted with the intention of enriching someone.

“If any funds were spent and the goal was to save a citizen of the Czech Republic, it cannot be claimed that the intention and motive of the defendant's actions was aimed at enriching himself or others,” the judge stated, among other things.

Blažek admitted, that although Blahut hypothetically did not always comply with all the regulations, which could theoretically give rise to proceedings due to a disciplinary offense or a negligent offense, he pointed out that the defendant does not stand trial for such acts.

The indictment claims that the former deputy had information that a Czech citizen, who had been detained in one of the African countries since December 2015 for alleged anti-state activities, would be sentenced in the country and subsequently pardoned by the president there “in anticipation of an improvement in bilateral relations”.

However, according to the indictment, in December 2016, Blahut falsely informed the director of the ÚZSI that there was a possibility to secure the release of the citizen through the intervention of one of the neighboring African countries, in exchange for the supply of “technical equipment” worth 190 million crowns. But the technical equipment was not even purchased, as indicated in the intelligence files, and the money was not transferred to one of the neighboring African countries, which Blahut claimed, according to the file.

“These were only cover legends that had (.. .) to create the appearance of legality of the expenditure of 190 million crowns from ÚZSI funds,” said the prosecutor in the indictment. According to him, Blahut kept the money intended for the purchase of equipment.

Today, the judge also mentioned Blahut's possible actions in an emergency, although it was not clearly proven. “The interest of the Czech Republic is indisputably to protect citizens, whether it concerns their health or their lives,” said Blažek.

Blahut was the deputy of civil intelligence from September 2014 to January 2018. The police charged him in August 2019. Blahut with he did not agree to the accusations, but his complaint against the prosecution was rejected by the Supreme State Prosecutor's Office.

The Office for Foreign Relations and Information deals with information that comes from abroad. But he can also collect them on Czech territory. Unlike the Security Information Service (BIS) and Military Intelligence (VZ), for example, they are not allowed to conduct wiretapping.