Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Justice minister may sue lawyer over New Year amnesty

3 May 2013

Prague, May 2 (CTK) - Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blazek (Civic Democratic Party, ODS) is considering taking steps against lawyer Pavel Hasenkopf, an aide to the Presidential Office, over his having said the New Year amnesty was drafted by the Justice Ministry although it was not so, Blazek told CTK Thursday.

Prime Minister Petr Necas (ODS) said there is no doubt about the authorship of the amnesty because former president Vaclav Klaus has repeatedly said he was the author.

Klaus declared the amnesty on January 1. About 6500 convicts were released from prisons within it. The amnesty also applied to suspended sentences and alternative punishments.

The amnesty halted criminal proceedings if they lasted for more than eight years and if the maximum prison sentence that can be imposed in such cases does not exceed ten years. It caused a general outrage as it applied to some high-profile corruption and financial fraud cases.

The Senate then filed a high treason complaint against Klaus with the Constitutional Court over the amnesty and other issues. The court rejected the complaint.

Hasenkopf said he doubted that Blazek could know about the work of all the ministerial staff.

"I do not want to watch passively how a publicly expressed lie is becoming a normal thing that may harm anyone in our society without any consequences," Blazek said.

"In connection with Hasenkopf's statements about the amnesty, I am considering taking legal steps," he added.

Hasenkopf said he had not yet read Blazek's statement.

He said if Blazek "claims that I am lying he ought to have verified whether he can really claim that the amnesty was not drafted at the ministry, whether he can guarantee this for all the staff."

Hasenkopf said based on his words, "every sensible man" could form an opinion on how it really was.

Necas said after Thursday's government meeting Hasenkopf is a notorious liar and that he congratulates Vratislav Mynar, head of President Milos Zeman's office, on his decision to dismiss him.

Opposition Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said Thursday the dispute looks like a "smokescreen designed to obscure the responsibility of Vaclav Klaus and Petr Necas."

"These are two people who are signed under the amnesty, and there is no need to seek their responsibility for the shameful form of the amnesty," Sobotka said.

He said the disputes point to the "immense disorder" that probably accompanied the preparation of the amnesty.

Mynar said in daily Pravo on April 27 Hasenkopf had been one of the drafters of the amnesty.

Hasenkopf said on Wednesday he had made the first version, but its final form was quite different.

He said his proposal was probably rejected by the ministry. However, it said in a press release Thursday it had never received any proposal drafted by Hasenkopf.

The ministry also said no one from the Presidential Office ever wanted to consult it on the text of the amnesty.

Hasenkopf said the claim that the amnesty had been drafted by the Justice Ministry was corroborated by the fact that it was evidently made by an expert.

Blazek said neither him nor any Justice Ministry employee contributed to the drafting of the text.

The Justice Ministry only gave a single document to the Presidential Office in connection with the amnesty. It was a chart with the number of convicted persons along with specific crimes, Blazek said.

Mynar said Klaus's assistants Ladislav Jakl and Petr Hajek as well as lawyer Hasenkopf had been the real authors of the controversial presidential amnesty.

Both Hajek and Jakl denied having drafted the amnesty.

Mynar said Hasenkopf was still the Presidential Office's lawyer but that the cooperation would probably end.

Hasenkopf said he himself would not give the notice.

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