Masked police detain top Czech officials for corruption


BRUSSELS, Belgium — The Czech Republic is facing a political crisis after anti-corruption police arrested senior official during raids on the prime minister's office and other government departments.

Prime Minister Petr Necas vowed he would not resign despite the detention of his chief of staff, two senior intelligence officers and three former parliament members by armed and masked police who swooped on government buildings in Prague on Thursday.

 Speaking to the Czech parliament, Necas declared his innocence and blamed the police action on "a combination of misunderstanding and official fervor."

 Opposition parties are demanding his resignation and have called for a vote of no confidence.

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 The Czech Republic has been plagued by corruption scandals in recent years. Necas' conservative government voted in three years ago pledging a clean up, but since then the country has slipped into economic recession and graft allegations abound.

Among those arrested, Necas' Chief of Staff Jana Nagyova is reportedly the prime minister's closest advisor. Czech media have also suggested the pair are romantically linked. Necas announced on Tuesday he and his wife Jana Radka Necasova were divorcing.

In a bizarre twist, the intelligence officers arrested have been accused of placing Neca's wife under surveillance on the orders of Nagyova, a lawyer for former head of intelligence Ondrej Palenik, told the Czech news agency CTK.

Nagyova has been charged with bribery and abuse of power.

In a news conference Friday, the head of Czech Police's organized crime squad Robert Slachta said up to $8 million in cash and tens of kilos of gold were discovered in Thursday's raids which also also targeted private homes and business premises as well as government offices.

Neca's fate could now depend on the center-right Top 09 party which is a junior partner in the government coalition.