Friday, 25 April 2014

Press: Amnesty to affect some fraud, corruption cases

3 January 2013

Prague, Jan 2 (CTK) - The partial amnesty declared by outgoing Czech President Vaclav Klaus also applies to a number of politicians and businessmen, including those suspected of corruption, Czech dailies write yesterday.

The presidential amnesty forgives or deletes all year-long and shorter sentences as from January 2, two-year sentences for those who did not kill, seriously wound or rape anybody, for almost all prisoners aged above 75 and for those punished with house arrest, the papers recall.

Klaus also decided to halt the cases of criminal prosecution that have dragged on for more than eight years if the crime involved is punishable with ten years at the most, the dailies point out.

As a result, punishment will be avoided by Frantisek Chvalovsky, former Czech football association head who was previously sentenced to ten years in prison for a loan fraud but the verdict was abolished by a higher court and the lower-level court was to handle the case once more, writes daily Pravo.

The amnesty probably also applies to the cases businessmen Tomas Pitr and Miroslav Provod. Pitr was released from prison in November and is waiting for a new trial for suspected tax delicts from 1994, i.e. dating back far beyond the eight-year limit set by Klaus, Pravo writes.

Businessmen linked to the fraudulent H-system house construction project, which financially harmed hundreds of people, might also benefit from the amnesty, except for the project's protagonist Petr Smetka, Pravo writes.

The prosecution of persons suspected of illegal siphoning off money from some banks and credit unions may be halted as well, also in the case of the Union banka bank on which the court was to give a verdict on January 22, Pravo writes.

Daily Hospodarske noviny writes that some lawyers are critical of Klaus's decision to halt the protracted cases.

"The protraction of the cases need not be always the fault of the courts. It is often a result of obstructions on the part of the suspects. The amnesty can reward them for their behaviour now," Hospodarske noviny quotes lawyer Vaclav Laska as saying.

Of the already sentenced culprits, the amnesty applies to Ales Trpisovsky, a businessman and infamous road pirate who caused a serious accident by aggressive driving a couple of years ago and was definitively given a two-year suspended sentence, Pravo writes.

The amnesty also lifts the 18-month suspended sentence from pop singer Dara Rolins, who received it for a fatal road accident. It changes nothing about the driving ban for Trpisovsky and Rolins, nevertheless, the paper writes.

A suspended two-year sentence for a fake car theft might be forgiven to former football player Tomas Skuhravy, it adds.

Out of politicians, prison service will be avoided by Martin Janecka, former deputy mayor of Zlin, south Moravia, for the Social Democrats, CSSD, whom a court definitively sent to two years in prison for attempted bribery, Pravo says.

It says the amnesty does not apply to the prosecution of David Rath, MP and former regional governor for the Social Democracy, who is suspected of corruption, businessman Roman Janousek, suspected of injuring a woman while drunk driving, Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy Roman Pekarek freshly convicted of corruption, former ODS senator Alexandr Novak, sentenced for corruption, MPs Vit Barta (Public Affairs) and Jaroslav Skarka (unaffiliated), suspected of corruption, or Pavel Vondrous, who shot from a plastic gun at President Klaus last year.

Radovan Krejcir, fugitive entrepreneur convicted of serious financial crime, is not subject to amnesty either, as the amnesty does not apply to those on the run, the paper writes.

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