Thursday, 24 April 2014

PM says amnesty Klaus's decision, is sorry for tension

10 January 2013

Prague/Berlin, Jan 9 (CTK) - The granting of amnesty is a sovereign right of the president and the prime minister only confirms with his signature in consistence with constitutional habits that it is not at variance with the legal order, PM Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) said after a government meeting Wednesday.

But he said he is sorry for the heightened social tension and aroused controversies instead of reconciliation following the amnesty.

President Vaclav Klaus declared an extensive amnesty on the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic in his New Year's speech. About 6300 people have been released from prison as yet.

The amnesty pardons some prisoners as well as people given suspended sentences and halts criminal prosecution that continued for minimally eight years and the punishment does not carry more than ten years. Critics from across the political spectrum say this will also cover some corruption and fraud cases.

Necas said the government recommended to him Wednesday that he discuss with Klaus the possibility of his presence at a meeting of the Chamber of Deputies that will discuss the amnesty.

Klaus, on his last visit to Berlin in his capacity as president, told Czech journalists that he is not going to participate in a game of those who use the amnesty against him, the government and Necas.

"Its (the amnesty's) essence is an individual act of compassion and mercy. That is why it cannot be an object of political negotiations or even some kind of political deals and bargains," Necas said.

He dismissed the speculation that he bartered his signature under the amnesty for Klaus's support to the government-sponsored tax package and the state budget for 2013.

Necas said Klaus, a former prime minister, signed the bills last December because he was aware of the complications that he would cause in the economic environment if he rejected key bills just before the year's end.

"Prime ministers always countersigned amnesties in the 95 years [of existence of Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic]," Necas said.

He said the prime minister's signature is only a safeguard against obvious excesses in amnesty and a confirmation that it can be legally executed.

"However, if an act that is an expression of compassion and mercy, which is the essence of amnesty, is to be executed, and the result is not social conciliation, but on the contrary, an increase in social tension, then all of us should reflect on it," Necas said.

He said the fresh amnesty is an impulse to reforming the prison system and shorten the length of criminal proceedings.

Klaus said in an emotional statement for public Czech Television (CT) on Tuesday the criticism of the amnesty is an attack on him and the ideas he espouses.

He said the criticism does not aim the amnesty as such, but it is an attempt to harm him at the end of his presidential mandate.

"The amnesty is so clear, so simple, so precise, and so comprehensible for anyone who wants to understand it, that it is entirely useless to again explain it somehow," Klaus said in Berlin Wednesday.

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