Czech Minister of Defence Martin Stropnický (ANO) is presently dealing with a problem related to JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets, made by Swedish firm Saab, which could have a very personal impact. At first sight, the issue may appear to be a small one.
Despite the fact that the Czech government has already signed contracts for the continued leasing of the jets up until 2027,
Stropnický lacks any kind of expert analysis which might stipulate that the terms of the deal, worth CZK 17bn, means it is money well spent. On Wednesday, the government is due to assess the deal. Investigators are currently pursuing former Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová (TOP 09) regarding very similar doubts raised over the allegedly overpriced purchase of Spanish-made CASA transport jets in 2009.
The fear is that an eager police investigator or prosecutor could end up pursuing a case against the current defence minister, just as with Parkanová, for an alleged abuse of public office and a breach of the rules guiding the administration of foreign property. This scandal could then end up threatening the entire government of Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD). Such a scenario is entirely conceivable in the event that the Gripen lease deal is approved and signed by both sides without the aforementioned expert analysis.
“One reason for the lack of a cost analysis is that under the previous leadership of the defence ministry, public tenders for external legal services fell by the wayside,” one source, an administrator, told E15 daily.