Friday, 25 April 2014

Czechs from turbulent area protest against Klaus's amnesty

10 January 2013

Varnsdorf, North Bohemia, Jan 9 (CTK) - Several dozens of people Wednesday demonstrated against the extensive amnesty that the outgoing Czech President Vaclav Klaus declared in his New Year speech in Varnsdorf, one of the centres of a rather poor border area that was hit by social tension in 2011.

The protesters said they would call on Klaus to grant no more pardons in the last two months of his presidential mandate as a way of apologising for his amnesty to the citizens.

The protest's organiser Petr Heinrich said this was the last straw.

"I mind the halting of the economic cases the most," Heinrich told CTK.

Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman said earlier Wednesday the amnesty may halt the criminal prosecution of 18 big cases involving damage worth hundreds of millions of crowns and that thousands of people might be harmed in these cases.

Some teachers and mayors removed Klaus's portraits from their offices last week to show their opposition to the amnesty.

Klaus dismissed the criticism. He said it was an attack against him and an effort to weaken him.

In her address to the small crowd that gathered in Varnsdorf, Lenka Juricova said Klaus seemed to pardon people who would enable him to spend the rest of his life comfortably in return, indicating that Klaus made a bargain with some persons facing fraud charges.

Municipal authorities in Varnsdorf and the surrounding area said they were trying to prevent an increased crime rate related to the amnesty.

"We believe we will succeed in protecting our towns and villages against the negative impact of Vaclav Klaus's amnesty through strict action against criminals," Rumburk Mayor Jaroslav Tregr said.

Rumburk is one of the small towns in the remote Sluknov area in which social tension escalated in 2011, following violent clashes between the Romany community and "the white majority." Anti-Romany demonstrations were held then and more police had to be sent to the area.

Within the amnesty, over 6300 prisoners were released. Some of them have already committed crime, mostly thefts.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas Wednesday said the cabinet criticised the public Czech Television (CT) for "racist" reporting for making the false impression that all the released convicts were from one ethnic group. Necas did not explicitly say this group were Romanies, however.

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