Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Vondráček says his words on Babiš's release by MPs misinterpreted

ČTK |
29 November 2017

Prague, Nov 28 (CTK) - Czech Chamber of Deputies chairman Radek Vondracek (ANO) protested on Tuesday against media and observers interpreting his Sunday words on whether the Chamber should release ANO leader Andrej Babis for prosecution as his opposing the release because Babis is the next prime minister.

Addressing the lower house plenary session on Tuesday, Vondracek said his statement in a TV debate wanted to emphasise that the lawmakers should check the reasons for Babis's proposed prosecution consistently and carefully, regarding his future position as the new prime minister.

The police want Babis and ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek over a suspected EU subsidy fraud. The two were released for prosecution by the previous lower house, but were re-elected deputies in October and the police asked for their release again last week.

"I am resolutely protesting against some quoting me as allegedly saying that he who is prime minister stands above the law and is treated differently than an [ordinary] MP," Vondracek said.

In the Vaclav Moravec's Questions TV debate on Sunday, Vondracek said the lawmakers' vote on the release of Babis will be "a little bit different decision-making because we will be deciding on what is better for this situation and this country, since the man in question will be prime minister and will be forming a government."

Vondracek's words met with criticism of his opponents, mainly on the right-wing of the political spectrum.

TOP 09 deputy chairwoman Marketa Pekarova Adamova called his words surprising and close to scandalous, as they deny the fundamental principles of the rule of law.

"We make superhumans of deputies, mainly of Mr Babis, who is to be prime minister," she said.

Alluding to Vondracek, Pirates chairman Ivan Bartos called for cautiousness on the part of the people speaking in their capacity as elected officials.

Vondracek stressed that he never said Babis's [upcoming] appointment as prime minister is a reason for lawmakers not to release him for prosecution.

"I only stated that if prime minister is involved, the more consistently we have to check all information and have to approach the case accordingly," Vondracek said.

He said his words also hinted at the impact the lawmakers's decision may have on Prague's image abroad.

In addition, Babis, if released for prosecution, might have no chance to complete his defence during the four-year election term that started in October, Vondracek said.

Babis's ANO smoothly won the October general election and Babis is expected to form a one-colour minority government in the weeks to come.

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