Saturday, 20 July 2019

President, top judicial officials to discuss H-System case

ČTK |
27 July 2018

Prague, July 26 (CTK) - President Milos Zeman will meet the chairmen of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, Pavel Rychetsky and Pavel Samal, to talk about the H-System housing fraud case on Tuesday, his spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said on Twitter.

Samal recalled that he cannot discuss details of any individual case with Zeman as this would violate the principle of independence of courts and judges.

Supreme Court spokesman Petr Tomicek said Samal expects Zeman to share this view and he considers the invitation to the Prague Castle an impulse to talk about the judicial system in general.

Rychetsky confirmed he received the invitation for a meeting with Zeman, but did not know what the talks would be about. He said he cannot comment on the H-System case.

The Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that some of the damaged clients of the bankrupt H-System developer who formed the Svatopluk association and completed their flat by themselves must move out of their homes so that the flats can be sold within the bankruptcy proceedings.

Unlike lower level courts, the Supreme Court complied with the demand of the bankruptcy administrator who said all the damaged clients need to be compensated. It said Svatopluk invested in the property it did not own because the land on which the houses stand belonged to H-System.

In reaction, Zeman criticised the verdict and said he would like to talk to Samal.

The Svatopluk association said it would file a complaint with the Constitutional Court next week. The dwellers said they would not leave their homes.

On Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) will mediate negotiations between the bankruptcy administrator and Svatopluk representatives.

The Majak association, which represents another part of the damaged clients, called on Babis to negotiate will representatives of all former clients of H-System and seek a solution that would be fair for all of them.

After its establishment in 1993, the H-System firm signed contracts on the construction of flats and houses near Prague with hundreds of clients, but it went bankrupt in 1997, after completing only 34 houses. In total, over 1,000 clients lost about one billion crowns. H-System's majority owner Petr Smetka was released from prison in 2016 after spending 12 years behind bars.

Judge Kamil Kydalka who sentenced Smetka to prison said earlier this week that Zeman seems to have forgotten that his aides were connected with the fraudulent H-System in the late 1990s when he was prime minister.

Constitutional lawyer Jan Kysela on Thursday challenged the idea of a meeting of Zeman, Samal and Rychetsky focusing on the H-System case. He told CTK that the political power might interfere in the judiciary.

Even if the meeting deals with different issues, it creates the impression that the political power, namely the president, has the ambition to let courts know what decisions they should make, Kysela said.

He said Zeman could discuss the situation in the judiciary in general or the choice of top judicial officials.

Such a meeting was held in late June when Zeman met Rychetsky, Samal and Supreme Administrative Court chairman Josef Baxa.

Kysela said Zeman made rather unfortunate comments of the corruption case of former regional governor David Rath some time ago.

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