Thursday, 24 April 2014

Klaus says criticism of amnesty is attack aimed to weaken him

9 January 2013

Prague, Jan 8 (CTK) - Czech President Vaclav Klaus Tuesday said the criticism of the amnesty he declared on New Year is an attack made on him in an effort to weaken his political position before the end of his presidential mandate.

"I will not allow myself to get intimidated. Nothing ends. Fifteen years ago, I pronounced a well-known sentence - we're going on. It is still valid Tuesday," Klaus said on Czech Television (CT), comparing the present situation to that in the autumn 1997 when his then fellow Civic Democrats (ODS) unsuccessfully called on him to resign as head of the senior ruling Civic Democrats (ODS).

The relatively broad amnesty declared by Klaus has raised displeasure of the public as well as experts. It has been criticised by politicians across the political spectrum.

It is to be dealt with by the Constitutional Court and the Chamber of Deputies.

The critics mainly mind Klaus's decision to halt the prosecution of criminal cases if it has lasted more than eight years. This article of the amnesty applies to the most serious cases of suspected economic crime.

Over 100,000 people signed an Internet petition condemning the amnesty.

"This is not a campaign against the amnesty as such, it is a campaign against me, against the values I've embodied and espoused for a long time and that I've been promoting in Czech politics for more than two decades," Klaus said in reaction to the wave of criticism.

He said the campaign focuses neither on the convicts or released prisoners, nor on the suspected large-scale economic fraudsters or crime victims.

"Its aim is to attack me now that my presidential tenure is to expire soon," Klaus said.

His second and last possible presidential term expires on March 7.

Klaus said politicians have apprehensions of his further presence in the public life and they, along with the media, are trying to manipulate the public, and have succeeded to do so in the case of "far from a small portion" of people.

Klaus previously said that after his mandate expires, he will continue influencing politics with his analyses, studies etc. In the past months, he repeatedly indicated that some want to intimidate him and deter him from returning to politics, but he will not allow himself to be discouraged.

Klaus also commented on the strong criticism of the amnesty on Czech Radio (CRo) Tuesday.

"The uproar fomented by my political opponents and the following bombing of the public by media has resulted in the complete deletion of the sense of the amnesty, including the fact whom and what it applied to, and what meaning it has," Klaus said.

Klaus, in his interview with CT Tuesday thanked those who "use their head," the numbers of whom are rising, in his opinion.

More than 6000 inmates have been released from Czech prisons so far as a result of the amnesty and further tens of thousands of people with alternative or suspended sentences are waiting for the courts to forgive the sentences to them in accordance with the amnesty.

Political analyst Josef Mlejnek said Klaus's statement makes the impression as if Klaus wanted to build a position for his further political career after his departure as president.

"He compared the present situation to the attack on him in 1997 and used his then motto 'we're going on'. This is a step aimed to mobilise supporters rather than admit one's own mistake," Mlejnek said.

In November 1997, then leading ODS representatives Jan Ruml and Ivan Pilip called on Klaus to resign as ODS head over a scandal linked to suspicious sponsors and opaque party financing. Klaus then resigned as Czech prime minister but succeeded in defending his post of ODS leader. The ODS then split, with the rebels establishing a new party, the now defunct Freedom Union.

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Klaus is a senile old man who should rescind the amnesty and depart with whatever grace and goodwill he can still muster. Is there no-one in his inner circle with enough spine to tell him truth about his senility?