Friday, 18 April 2014

MPs want imprisoned lawmakers to lose pay, mandate

18 February 2013

Prague, Feb 15 (CTK) - The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, supported two bills stripping imprisoned legislators of their pay and those convicted and sent to prison of their mandate, in the first reading Friday.

The first draft legislation, submitted by the senior ruling Civic Democrats (ODS), may apply to MP Roman Pekarek (previously ODS) who was sentenced to five years in prison for bribery and abuse of office.

The legislation is now to be debated in the budget committee.

The latter, a draft constitutional amendment submitted by Chamber of Deputies chairwoman Miroslava Nemcova (ODS), is to be sent to the lower house constitutional-legal committee.

If it were passed, it would probably take effect as from the next election term only.

The ODS authors of the bill stripping imprisoned MPs of their pay and financial perks originally wanted the Chamber of Deputies to pass it in first reading, in an accelerated procedure, but the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) vetoed this demand.

The deputy's regular gross monthly salary is some 56,000 crowns plus various financial perks for accommodation, transport and leasing of offices that amount to tens of thousands of crowns. Besides, MPs receive bonuses for their posts in the lower house's committees and commissions.

"The lex Pekarek" as one of its authors, ODS deputy Marek Benda, calls it would also apply to deputies sent to a protective treatment in psychiatric clinics or to special detention facilities. Moreover, the time spent in these facilities would not be included in the calculation of their severance pay.

The Civic Democrats justify the bill by the fact that deputies behind bars cannot execute their mandate properly.

Nemcova used the same argument defending her draft amendment that would strip lawmakers sent to prison of their mandate automatically.

At the beginning of the 1990s, an imprisoned deputy would lose his/her mandate but the current law does not allow for it.

Pekarek, who is one of the three substitutes replacing the ODS rebels who left the lower house in protest against the government tax package at the end of last year, will start serving his sentence on Monday, he confirmed Friday that

No other deputies have been given a prison sentence and the verdict has taken effect in this election term.

However, former CSSD regional governor and deputy David Rath has been in custody since last May on suspicion of extensive corruption and he is waiting for a trial.

The trial of deputies Vit Barta (VV) and his former party colleague Jaroslav Skarka suspected of bribery is to continue.

Besides, another two deputies are being prosecuted. Otto Chaloupka (VV) is prosecuted on suspicion of bribery and former defence minister Vlasta Parkanova (TOP 09) over abuse of public office and breach of trust in connection with the purchase of the CASA aircraft for the military.

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