THE ACADEMY of the Police Corps, a state-run university-level institution which has been making media headlines since May due to suspicions of irregularities in the defence of diploma theses, problems drawing European funds, and the alleged forgery of its professors’ signatures, is now in the spotlight for another reason. The rector of the academy, Václav Krajník, was arrested on June 29 during a police operation codenamed Mahoney, after a character in the popular American comedy film Police Academy. Police allege that Krajník was involved in tampering with academy entrance examination results. He has now been charged with abuse of the power by a public official; police have also charged the academy’s bursar, Igor Schnorrer, and one other, unnamed employee, the Sme daily reported.
The case is being investigated by the inspectorate of the Interior Ministry, closely assisted by the Office for the Fight Against Corruption, a special police unit. Officers originally raided the academy over suspicions of abuse involving EU funding at the academy. However, in the bursar’s office they found 29 original entry exam forms which they believe were replaced with previously prepared correct answers.
“In this particular case I am glad, as a Slovak saying has it, that we cleaned up our own threshold,” Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák told a press conference, though he provided no further details, citing the ongoing police investigation into claims related to European funds.
According to Kaliňák, the entry test results of 24 percent of evaluated applicants for the academy had been tampered with. The minister said that the accused had taken several steps so that the entry exam forms could be switched for equivalents with the correct answers, SITA newswire reported.
In at least in two cases bribes amounting to €5,000 were involved, the minister alleged.
Krajník reportedly confessed to the police his role in tampering with the test results. However, he was hospitalised shortly after the police operation and later told the Plus Jeden Deň daily that he made the confession while suffering from a stroke and that he had been in no condition to give evidence.
“I do not know what I exactly said to them,” Krajník said, as quoted by Plus Jeden Deň.
If found guilty, the accused could find themselves facing prison terms of between two and five years, according to Ingrid Stanová, spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry. The former rector faces three to eight years behind bars if convicted of the corruption-related charges, Stanová told The Slovak Spectator.
The Interior Ministry said it would decide soon on the fate of the academy’s whole entrance procedure, once it obtains all the relevant information from the investigator, Stanová said.
The rector also faces accusations that he violated the rules of diploma thesis defence in the case of Czech politician Jan Rytíř. Krajník, who as well as being rector chaired the commission overseeing the award of qualifications, overlooked the fact that at the time of Rytíř’s defence of his doctoral thesis two of his three opponents were not present and so the lawful conditions for awarding a qualification were not satisfied, Kaliňák alleged, as quoted by SITA.
The signature of academy professor Jaroslav Ivor in the minutes and in the voting protocol for Rytíř’s defence was allegedly fabricated. Ivor later confirmed that he was not present at the defence; furthermore, his signatures varied and none matched the original. While Krajník has refused to comment on the suspicions, Rytíř has claimed that he does not remember what happened, according to a Sme investigation in May.
The current situation
Krajník was suspended on July 2 and replaced by deputy rector Ľuboš Wäldl. The academy’s senate is due to sit in the next few days, according to its chair Jozef Haladik, in order to consider Krajník’s formal dismissal, Sme reported.
Co-accused Igor Schnorrer as well as being the academy’s bursar, also heads the local branch of the opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) in Dunajská Lužná, a village close to Bratislava. The regional party chief, Lucia Žitňanská, said that the allegations against him are serious and that she would ask the regional presidium to suspend Schnorrer’s party membership, according to Sme
“We will decide on our next step when we have more information about the case,” Žitňanská said, as quoted by Sme.
The current investigations are not the first time that the police academy, including Krajník, has been subject to an Interior Ministry inspection. The ministry previously looked into suspicions of improper conduct at the academy in the case of another Czech politician, Vít Bárta. The former Czech transport minister was awarded a doctorate in law by the academy in 2003. His younger brother Matej was awarded the same degree in 2006. Significant parts of both their doctoral works were copied from books written by professor and criminologist Jiří Straus, who was their opponent in their final thesis defences, Sme reported in May 2012, citing the Czech weekly Reflex.
Both theses are similar to each other, yet the brothers deny allegations of copying or corruption, claiming that they participated in Straus’ research so were entitled to use the results from it. Vít Bárta, who is appealing against a conviction in April 2012 for bribing colleagues from his Public Affairs (VV) party in the Czech Republic, said he was in Straus’ team while he was studying and participated in two scientific reports, something attested to by Straus, Sme reported.
However, Straus was critical of the way the Barta brothers had used his work in their diploma theses. “Now I am saying to myself that they should quote me better,” Straus said, as quoted by Reflex. He added that maybe he was “too generous” to the brothers.
After investigating, the Interior Ministry concluded, among other findings, that Krajník, as head of the awards commission, performed his duties correctly in the academy’s decision to grant doctorates to the Barta brothers, according to Sme.
5. Jul 2012 at 0:00 | Roman Cuprik