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Court rejects complaint against Zeman not naming professor

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Brno, Nov 20 (CTK) – The Constitutional Court (US) rejected the complaint by physicist Ivan Ostadal and Charles University against alleged inactivity of Czech President Milos Zeman who did not appoint Ostadal professor, US judge rapporteur Vojtech Simicek said on Monday.

The US said Zeman was not inactive since he wrote in a letter to then education minister Katerina Valachova in January 2016 that he would not appoint Ostadal and two other candidates for professors. The complaint about inactivity thus must be rejected, Simicek said.

Lower level courts previously arrived at the same conclusion.

Simicek said Zeman’s decision not to appoint Ostadal may be challenged with an administrative court, but the correct type of complaint needs to be filed.

Zeman’s lawyer Marek Nespala welcomed the US verdict, saying it confirmed that Zeman made the correct decision. “It can be said that the legal stance of the president in this unfortunate case has been very successful,” Nespala said.

In early 2015, Zeman did not sign the appointing decree of Ostadal, political scientist Jan Eichler and art historian Jiri Fajt, citing their serious past mistakes.

Until then, the president’s role in appointing professors was merely ceremonial, formal as a scientific council is fully responsible for the selection of the candidates.

Zeman claimed Ostadal had contacts with the communist secret police StB, Eichler worked for the propaganda unit of the Czechoslovak communist army, and Fajt in his capacity of National Gallery (NG) director asked a bank to raise his pay by sending a donation to NG.

All three candidates dismissed Zeman’s claims. This was one of several disputes Zeman had with Czech rectors and universities.

In September 2016, Ostadal filed a complaint against Zeman’s decision not to appoint him professor, but the Prague Municipal Court repeatedly rejected the complaint as belated. The Supreme Administrative Court is now dealing with the case.

The Prague Municipal Court is yet to deal with a third complaint filed by Ostadal. According to this complaint, Zeman acted against law when he failed to deliver the decision not to appoint Ostadal to Charles University and Ostadal himself.

Fajt filed complaints against Zeman’s inactivity, too, and courts turned them down. Last week, Fajt filed a constitutional complaint.

Three of the 15 constitutional judges, including US chairman Pavel Rychetsky, supported Ostadal’s complaint. Rychetsky said the president had neither constitutional nor legal power to reject a candidate for professor proposed by the scientific council. Moreover, Zeman’s letter to Valachova was not a proper way to announce his decision and end his inactivity, Rychetsky said.

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