Thursday, 24 April 2014

Justice minister: Amnesty errors irreversible

30 January 2013

Prague, Jan 29 (CTK) - Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blazek (Civic Democrats, ODS) and Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman yesterday admitted that possible mistakes that judges or state attorneys made in implementing the presidential amnesty are irreversible and cannot be put right.

Blazek and Zeman reacted to the article in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) describing the case of a man who was released from prison on the basis of the amnesty by mistake, as it should not have applied to him.

A total of 6401 convicts have been released from prisons based on President Vaclav Klaus' New Year amnesty.

Blazek admitted that mistakes might have happened in face of the huge pile of cases. Nevertheless, the number of them is insignificant, he said.

Blazek said he plans to convoke regional courts' chairpersons to discuss ways to detect the wrong decisions and prevent similar cases in future.

"In the cases of uncovered wrong application of the [amnesty] law, the Justice Ministry would consider lodging a complaint over a violation of law," Blazek said.

However, not even if the ministry's complaint succeeded in court, the wrongly released convict would not be returned to jail, he said.

"In this case, the complaint over a violation of law would be lodged to the detriment of the accused. This means the verdict on it would be only academic because a [judge's] decision cannot be changed to the detriment of the accused," Blazek said.

Zeman said this type of complaint is the only extraordinary correctional instrument that can be used in the case of a wrong application of amnesty. Reopening of criminal proceedings is out of the question, he said.

As far as judges' responsibility for the wrong decisions is concerned, it would be necessary to assess individual judges' decision to find out whether they made a mistake out of negligence or based on their different legal view.

Judges cannot be punished for holding a legal view.

According to the police statistics, the pardoned and released convicts have committed 305 offences, including 177 crimes, while at liberty. About 60 of them "are heading back to prisons now," Blazek said.

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