Sunday, 20 April 2014

Presidential amnesty to affect 7,416 people

3 January 2013

Prague, Jan 2 (CTK) - The Justice Ministry estimates the number of prisoners who will fall under the amnesty declared by Czech President Vaclav Klaus at 7,416, Justice Ministry press department told CTK yesterday.

Justice Minister Pavel Blazek said earlier the estimate could change in the days to come.

Two women from a prison in Teplice, north Bohemia, were the first to be released.

Deputy Justice Minister Daniel Volak said the prison service and judges were ready to work on the implementation of the amnesty round-the-clock.

The judges are deciding on individual cases directly in prisons, Volak said.

He said the judges' decision in a closed session could be very fast and the prisoners' release could be rather slowed down by the prisons' practical conditions.

"I cannot guarantee this on behalf of all courts, but we are trying to do everything to make the decisions yesterday," chairman of the Prague Municipal Court Jan Svacek has said.

He said only later the courts would deal with the cases of the persons sentenced to suspended and alternative penalties.

In some cases, the decision on whether a prisoner should be released may last some days or weeks, Svacek, a member of the working group for the amnesty, said.

The state attorney and prisoner may lodge a complaint about the verdict that must be considered by a court of appeal, he added.

The amnesty took effect on January 2. The judges must subsequently decide on whether the amnesty refers to individual cases.

At first, the courts deal with the people serving their prison sentences.

Svacek said the judges were trying to mete out most verdicts yesterday.

However, the cases cannot be ruled out in which a court decides to release a prisoner, but the state attorney uses the right to file a complaint, he added.

"The complaint will undoubtedly delay the procedure," Svacek said.

"Then a higher instance court will decide on it, which means the regional court in this case," he added.

"This is a procedure lasting routinely some days or weeks," he added.

"Amnesty is an extraordinary situation calling for extraordinary effort and work," Deputy Supreme State Attorney Pavel Pukovec has said.

"However, on the part of courts and state attorney's offices, the routine and legal procedure must be guaranteed," Pukovec said.

A similar statement was made by Blazek. "We cannot allow for this taking place at the expense of the quality of the procedure," Blazek said.

"As soon as a court makes a decision, the release procedure immediately starts," Petr Dohnal, general director of the Prison Service, has said.

"This means the health and final check-ups, the return of clothes and other things a prisoner receives while serving the sentence and the filling in of the releasing documents," Dohnal said.

The entire procedure lasts some two hours, he added.

Dohnal said individual prisons could release tens of inmates daily.

He said the Teplice prison had already released 12 out of the 27 inmates covered by the amnesty.

There are 36 prisons in the Czech Republic.

Blazek said the releases would not refer to those prosecuted while detained.

Klaus announced the amnesty within his New Year's speech on January 1 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of establishment of the independent Czech Republic.

There are some 23,000 prisoners in Czech prisons now.

Blazek said the conditions of the amnesty mainly related to the prisoners serving the sentences of one year and less, which means over petty crime such as theft.

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