Thursday, 24 April 2014

Presidential candidates challenge amnesty

3 January 2013

Prague, Jan 2 (CTK) - Most Czech presidential candidates challenge the amnesty declared by outgoing President Vaclav Klaus that takes effect yesterday and applies to over 7000 people.

Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09 chairman) and Zuzana Roithova (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) criticised the fact that the amnesty will probably apply to persons convicted over extensive fraud cases related to state companies.

Even candidates who are close to Klaus, Milos Zeman (Party of Citizens' Rights, SPOZ) and Jana Bobosikova (Sovereignty) are critical of the amnesty.

"Though I want to continue with the politics of Vaclav Klaus in many ways, I do not consider his amnesty a good step," Bobosikova said.

Schwarzenberg, who is foreign minister, said he himself was considering declaring amnesty if he would be elected president. But he said the amnesty should only apply to small crimes.

The amnesty "should not apply to the biggest scandals of the country," he told CTK.

Roithova said she can neither understand nor accept that protagonists of corruption cases will be released within Klaus's amnesty.

She pointed to the fraudulent H-system house construction project that financially harmed hundreds of people and to cases related to grey eminence Miroslav Slouf, close collaborator of Zeman.

Presidential candidate Premysl Sobotka (Civic Democrats, ODS) said the amnesty surprised him. He said its results probably would not be good.

Sobotka said earlier he would never declare amnesty if he was president because the president is "no monarch."

Bobosikova shares this view.

Both Sobotka and Bobosikova rejected the argument that the amnesty is a solution to the situation of the overcrowded Czech prisons.

Bobosikova also opposed the fact that Klaus also decided to halt the cases of criminal prosecution that have lasted for more than eight years.

Candidate Tana Fischerova (unaffiliated) noted that Klaus prevented the next president from declaring an amnesty.

Candidate Vladimir Franz (unaffiliated) said it would be interesting to see how many of the released convicts would return to prison after some time.

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