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Czech police sweep nets senior government aide

Raids include ministries; leader vows to remain

PRAGUE — Prime Minister Petr Necas of the Czech Republic said on Thursday he had no intention of resigning after authorities from an organized crime unit raided government offices and arrested several officials, including one of his senior aides.

Several hundred officers took part in the nationwide raid that included the defense ministry, government headquarters, and City Hall in Prague, the capital, the Czech news media reported. The reports said police had also searched safe deposit boxes at a branch of Komercni bank in Prague and conducted a sweep of the offices of influential lobbyists.

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Interior Minister Jan Kubice told Parliament on Thursday that Necas had been visited by the head of the organized crime unit and two state attorneys. He said the visit was “in connection with a step in the criminal proceedings” but did not elaborate.

According to the online version of Mlada fronta DNES, a leading Czech newspaper, those arrested included Jana Nagyova, the prime minister’s chief of staff and an influential aide. Czech news media reports said she had come under scrutiny before for receiving large bonuses from the state.

Lubomir Poul, the chief of the government office, was also detained, as were Milan Kovanda, the head of military intelligence, and his predecessor, Ondrej Palenok, the newspaper reported.

Petr Tluchor and Ivan Fuksa, former members of Parliament from Necas’ party, were detained. Both had recently resigned under unexplained circumstances.

While the motives for the arrests remained unclear, analysts said that the detention of a senior member of Necas’s inner circle threatened to bring down the center-right coalition government, already weak after a series of corruption scandals had pushed it to the brink of collapse.

But Necas told reporters that he remained confident in Nagyova and had no reason to think she had done anything illegal. He said he had no intention of resigning.

“I am personally convinced that I did not do anything dishonest and that my colleagues have not done anything dishonest either,” he said. “I expect that law enforcement agencies will quickly explain their reasons for launching such a massive operation.”

President Milos Zeman’s office said he would meet on Friday with Necas, Justice Minister Pavel Blazek, the national police chief, the chief of public prosecutors, and the head of the opposition Social Democrats to discuss how to proceed.

The Social Democrats called a party leadership meeting to discuss its response. Some opposition members were already calling for early elections.

Jiri Pehe, a political scientist who is director of New York University in Prague, said that if people close to the prime minister were implicated in corruption, he would come under heavy pressure to resign or face a no-confidence vote.

His coalition partners could also withdraw their support and bring the government down.

“Unless the police have completely misfired, this could have serious and far-reaching repercussions,’’ Pehe said.

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