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President considering granting pardon to Kajínek

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Caslav/Benesov, Central Bohemia, April 6 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman has been seriously considering granting pardon to Jiri Kajinek, a double murderer who pleads innocent and was sentenced to life in 1998, he told a meeting of the locals during his official visit to the Central Bohemian Region on Thursday.

Zeman said Kajinek has been in prison for 20 years and the verdict has been challenged.

In Benesov later on Thursday, Zeman said this does not mean that he would release Kajinek from prison, but only consider his case thoroughly.

Zeman said justice minister Pavel Rychetsky, who is Constitutional Court chairman now, in 2001 publicly challenged the verdict that proclaimed Kajinek guilty.

He said he asked justice minister Helena Valkova to check Kajinek’s trial and let a different court deal with the case, but then Valkova was forced to leave the post of minister.

Last year, Zeman said that the current Justice Minister Robert Pelikan is strongly against the reopening of Kajinek’s trial.

In 2015, Zeman said Kajinek should be given a chance of a new trial and he should be tried by another court than the one that sentenced him to life. In 2016, Zeman said he asked for Kajinek’s file, but he said he would not grant pardon to Kajinek.

Zeman, who has been president for four years, has granted seven pardons so far. In his presidential campaign, he said he would do so only seldom and for humanitarian reasons.

Kajinek, now 56, never confessed to the crime. He says the police fabricated the trial to cover up their own fault. He twice applied for the reopening of his case at the Constitutional Court but did not succeed.

He was convicted to life for shooting an entrepreneur and his bodyguard dead on the outskirts of the west Bohemian city of Plzen in 1993. Another bodyguard survived the attack.

Kajinek’s case was in the limelight and a number of discrepancies were revealed and new testimonies appeared. Three justice ministers complained about mistakes in the investigation. Some witnesses claimed Kajinek was manipulating public opinion and intimidating people.

A film was made about Kajinek’s life story in 2010, which further increased his popularity. He was the most popular prisoner in the country even before the film. He is mainly known for his spectacular escape from a tight-security prison in 2000.

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