Czech constitutional court giving ‘top priority’ to treason charges against Klaus
The Czech Republic’s constitutional court could come up with a decision by the end of March at the earliest on the treason charges against Václav Klaus, whose term as president ends on March 7, a court official said on March 5, local media reported.
The Czech Republic’s left-dominated senate voted 38 to 30 on March 4 to press charges of treason against Klaus in connection with five cases, including the controversial amnesty that he announced on New Year’s Eve, his refusal to sign the European Stability Pact and his delays in nominating judges to the constitutional court.
The amnesty opened the way for the release of about 7000 prisoners and ended prosecutions in cases that had dragged on for years.
In one fell swoop, a dozen high-profile corruption cases – cases that involve millions of dollars in asset-stripping, bribes and fraud – were thrown out. The halted prosecutions included that of prominent businessman Tomas Pitr for alleged tax fraud and that of former football association chief Frantisek Chvalovsky for embezzlement, the BBC said.
If found guilty, Klaus faces losing his presidential pension and a ban on ever running for president again.
Klaus has said the allegations were not motivated by any actions or actual wrongdoing on his part but was an attempt by his political opponents to tarnish his presidency.
Klaus has received an expression of support from members of parliament for the senior ruling Civic Democratic Party. “Those who voted for the decision tried to settle their accounts with Klaus in a cowardly manner,” the MPs said on March 5. “In doing so, they have not only irrevocably harmed their own reputation, but also the reputation of the entire Czech Republic, including the Senate itself,” the statement said.
Radio Prague said that Klaus also had support from his former political rival Miloš Zeman, the president-elect who will be sworn in on March 8. Zeman called the move by the senate against the outgoing head of state a “hysterical reaction”.
(Photo: David Sedlecký)