Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Schwarzenberg criticises presidential amnesty

18 January 2013

Prague, Jan 17 (CTK) - Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg yesterday said he is aghast at the presidential amnesty that also halts some cases of prosecution, and he views it as a display of mistrust on the part of PM Petr Necas that he had not informed the cabinet about the amnesty beforehand.

Schwarzenberg, TOP 09 head and candidate for president, walked out of the Chamber of Deputies to express his disagreement with Necas's (Civic Democrats, ODS) steps.

Former socialist PM Milos Zeman, who will clash with Schwarzenberg in the presidential election's run-off duel later this month, has also criticised the amnesty.

Schwarzenberg said in the lower house debate that he understands President Vaclav Klaus's right to declare amnesty, but he considers the prime minister's steps "wrong, to say it mildly," adding that they have "made him upset."

The constitutional reality requires that the government be informed [by the prime minister], Schwarzenberg said.

He said he learnt about the amnesty from Klaus's New Year's Day speech, like the rest of the population.

"After I acquainted myself with [the amnesty's] content, I stood aghast," he said.

By his steps [not informing the cabinet beforehand], Necas, who countersigned the amnesty, made it clear that he does not trust his own cabinet, Schwarzenberg said.

Schwarzenberg's absence from the lower house session will not endanger the government's survival of the no-confidence vote, initiated by the left opposition in connection with the controversial amnesty and scheduled for this afternoon.

Opposition Public Affairs (VV) MP Michal Babak said Schwarzenberg should have stayed in the Chamber of Deputies and voted against the government.

Necas defends himself saying he had to countersign the presidential amnesty in accordance with constitutional habits.

Justice Minister Pavel Blazek (ODS), too, says amnesty is one of the cases the prime minister has to sign even if he politically disapproves of it.

Zeman previously said he is opposed to any amnesty. In the latest case, he opposes the amnesty more categorically because it pardons some suspected large-scale fraudsters and thieves, which he said is inadmissible.

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