Thursday, 17 April 2014

Klaus's amnesty halts criminal proceedings in 327 cases as yet

22 February 2013

Prague, Feb 21 (CTK) - The amnesty that outgoing Czech President Vaclav Klaus declared on New Year's Day has halted criminal proceedings in 327 cases as yet, Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman said at a public hearing in the Senate Thursday.

The extensive amnesty has caused a public outcry because the halting of some criminal proceedings that continued for more than eight years and in which the punishment does not exceed ten years in prison relates to closely-watched corruption and fraud cases.

Zeman said the prosecution lasted more than eight years due to the absence of the suspect in a crushing majority of the now halted cases. In these older cases, the suspects could not be prosecuted in absentia as fugitives.

About one-third of the halted cases of prosecution involve serious crimes for which the punishment exceeds five years in prison, he said.

State attorneys had to halt 201 criminal proceedings in the stage before bringing charges against the accused and 126 cases were halted in proceedings at court, it ensues from an analysis Zeman had worked out.

Twenty-six suspects, whose prosecution was halted before charges were brought against them, used their right to ask for the prosecution to continue.

The same request was lodged by another 26 suspects tried at court.

Almost half (48 percent) of the halted criminal proceedings related to property crime, such as thefts and embezzlement.

Other halted proceedings related to economic crime (13 percent), such as unauthorised running of business, and crimes of breaching public affairs order (13 percent), such as abuse of power or bribe taking.

Eleven percent of the halted cases related to crimes aimed against liberty, including blackmail, robbery and restricting another's freedom.

Zeman said the figures are not final and that some tens of other case may be still halted.

In all cases under the jurisdiction of both High State Attorney's Offices, seated in Prague and Olomouc, the attorneys lodged complaints against the judges' decision on halting the prosecution based on the presidential amnesty.

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