Criminal investigators from the National Central Office against Organized Crime are prosecuting nine people and two companies due to the handling of toxic waste at the Celio landfill near Litvínov in Mostek. One of the central figures in the case is the former landfill director René Konečný. As Aktuálně.cz found out, Konečný previously worked for the police himself. He worked as a senior manager at the police headquarters of the Ústí Region.
According to the investigators, René Konečný, as the director of the Celio landfill, signed a fictitious certificate stating that the barrels of hazardous waste were disposed of properly. Instead, however, they just buried themselves in the landfill. The criminal police arrested him in January of this year, Konečný spent over two months in custody after the intervention.
The investigation of the case is supervised by the High Prosecutor’s Office in Prague. Celio is also being prosecuted, as is its sister company Aquatest, which won the contract for the disposal of toxic waste. According to the police, however, she only moved him to the Celio complex in Litvínov. The company dismissed Konečný from his position shortly after his release from custody.
According to the findings of Aktuálně.cz, Konečný was standing on the same side of the imaginary border not long before the intervention of criminal investigators. He held several management positions at the Regional Police Directorate of the Ústí Region. He worked there for over three and a half years. At one point, he was on the second level of management, right behind the regional director.
The second management position after the director
René Konečný first appeared in a higher position in the hierarchy of the police of the Ústí Region in 2017. He had already worked at the directorate for some time then. He applied for a tender for the position of head of the department that manages the real estate of the regional police. He succeeded, and on March 13, 2017, he assumed the position of director.
“In 2018, he applied for a tender for the position of deputy director of the regional directorate for the economy and was appointed to the position on October 1, 2018,” Jaromír Kníže, director of the Ústí regional police, described the further development of Konečné’s career to Aktuálně.cz. The prince has served in his position for almost seven years.
The appointment of Konečný caused a stir at the directorate. He held the post of deputy, as well as the previous position of department head, as an employee. At the same time, it is customary in the corps that managerial positions are occupied by police officers in a service relationship. Konečné’s career as a deputy did not last long, in January 2020 he asked director Kníže to resign.
“His employment ended on September 30, 2020,” the director of Kníž told Aktuálně.cz. Konečný also sat on the supervisory board of the Bonum Commune Foundation for three years, in which important regional businessmen Štěpán Popovič, Libor Sehnal and Vladimír Feix were involved. The goal of the association was to support the technical and professional development of the regional police.
They just buried the toxic substances instead of disposing of them
“The essence of the action being prosecuted is the illegal way of handling waste during the implementation of a public contract for the correction of old environmental burdens that arose before the privatization of the Nelahozeves landfill,” supervisory prosecutor Zdeněk Matula from the High Prosecutor’s Office in Prague described the case in which Konečný is now an accused to Aktuálně.cz.
Celio Landfill near Litvínov. | Photo: CTK
“As a lawyer, I am bound by the principle of confidentiality, which my client did not release me from. So I cannot tell you any information,” his lawyer Markéta Soukupová told Aktuálně.cz. As Seznam Zpravy pointed out, Konečný was released from custody after he began to testify to the police.
At the landfill in Nelahozevs, during communism, toxic and highly flammable styrene was stored, which was created during the production of rubber produced by the state enterprise Kaučuk Kralupy nad Vltavou. The Ministry of Finance under the government of Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) issued a tender for its liquidation. The contract for 26 million crowns was won by Aquatest, which is a sister company of Celia.
However, according to criminologists, more than 2,170 tons of styrene were just transported from Nelahozevsi to the Celio landfill. It was stored there, mixed with other waste, and Konečný issued a fictitious document about its disposal, according to criminal investigators. The police believe that the plan was devised by Daniel Kraft, who served on the management bodies of both prosecuted companies. He is the main accused.
Up to 15 years in prison if found guilty
“Criminal prosecution is being conducted for a particularly serious crime of public danger, a particularly serious crime of fraud committed at the stage of an attempt, a crime of damaging and endangering the environment, and a misdemeanor of violating regulations on the rules of economic competition,” Matula described to Aktuálně.cz the qualification of the actions of the prosecutor. The damage caused reached at least ten million crowns.
The prosecution of nine people and two companies is being conducted as against an organized group, for which, if found guilty, there is a risk of up to 15 years in prison. After the intervention of the National Center against Organized Crime, six people ended up in custody. However, as the supervising public prosecutor Matula has now confirmed, today they are all being investigated at large.
Already last summer, the Czech Environmental Inspectorate pointed out that waste from the Nelahozeve landfill is being treated illegally in the Celio area. She pointed to the inexpert securing of the styrene drums, which were leaking toxic liquids. “However, the received waste should have been treated and then thermally disposed of in a completely different facility, outside the premises of the Celio company,” said inspection spokesman Jiří Ovečka after the inspection.