Friday, 18 April 2014

Zeman to hoist EU flag in Prague, entrust pardons to ministry

4 February 2013

Prague, Feb 2 (CTK) - Milos Zeman, who will be sworn-in as the new Czech president on March 8, will host the EU flag at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, unlike his outgoing predecessor, Eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus, Zeman says in an interview with daily Pravo out Saturday.

Zeman said he plans to invite European Commission President Jose Barroso to attend the ceremony.

He also said he would give up the agenda of presidential pardons, which he will transfer to the Justice Ministry.

He previously said that if elected president, he would never declare an amnesty.

Earlier this month, the amnesty declared by outgoing President Vaclav Klaus aroused a wave of criticism among the public, politicians as well as experts. Apart from pardoning convicts with low or suspended sentences, it also halted the cases of prosecution if it lasted for more than eight years and the suspects would faced less than ten years in prison.

As a result, a number of large-scale fraudsters and thieves have escaped punishment, also in the cases where the long proceedings were to blame on the sluggishness of courts, critics say.

Klaus, whose second and last possible mandate expires on March 7, backed Zeman in the presidential election against his rival in the run-off vote, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

A source told Pravo that Jiri Weigl, head of the Presidential Office who recently announced his departure along with Klaus, will remain in the post for several months until Zeman finds a replacement for him.

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