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Opposition fails to open session on PM’s effort to sack GIBS head

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Prague, March 27 (CTK) – The lower house session on Czech PM Andrej Babis’s (ANO) effort to sack Michal Murin as the General Inspection of Security Corps (GIBS) head was not held on Tuesday since the ANO movement, the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and the Communists (KSCM) rejected its programme.

Lawmaker Miroslav Kalousek, from the right-wing opposition TOP 09 that initiated the special session, told journalists that this vote showed once again that Babis is ruling the country together with the Communists and the anti-EU SPD movement.

He said the vote made it apparent that some people are above law and may intervene in the investigation. “A majority in the lower house prefers Oriental despotism to the rule of law,” Kalousek said.

He recalled the Capi hnizdo case within which Babis is investigated over a suspected EU subsidy fraud.

Christian Democrat (centrist opposition KDU-CSL) leader Pavel Belobradek said Babis left the lower house before the vote. “Babis used his priority right to address the session before the vote on the session agenda and he in fact said he would not tell anything about it and he left,” Belobradek said.

The discussion on the session lasted about one hour and it was held behind closed doors, which was a demand that ANO pushed through.

Pirates leader Ivan Bartos said the lower house once again failed to get answers to the key questions of whether Babis pushed for Murin’s dismissal and why he wants Murin to leave.

Babis allegedly wanted Murin to step down, but Murin refused it. Babis then openly challenged Murin and said he lost trust in him. He launched disciplinary proceedings against Murin.

Under the civil service law, a member of a state security body can be taken off duty if there is a suspicion of crime, a misdemeanour or similar behaviour.

Kalousek said previously the removal of Murin might be part of an effort to politically influence the GIBS and consequently other security bodies.

Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) said the lower house should not deal with Murin’s disciplinary proceedings at all as this is not a political issue. The proceedings are led in accordance with law and a court may then check its result, he added.

KSCM deputy chairman Jiri Dolejs said all the arguments related to the steps Babis took in connection with Murin had been presented and nothing new was said in the debate on Tuesday.

Dolejs said lawmakers repeatedly declared that Babis, who is prosecuted, should not dismiss state officials and he should at least wait until his cabinet wins the lower house’s confidence.

ANO clearly won the general election last October and formed a minority cabinet, which failed to win the confidence vote that the lower house held in it in January. Babis is negotiating about support for his second cabinet with the Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Communists.

Lawmaker Miroslava Nemcova (right-wing opposition Civic Democrats, ODS) said the discussion produced no new pieces of information. Katerina Valachova (CSSD) shared her view. Valachova said it was adequate that the discussion was behind closed doors because it concerned an administrative proceeding on Murin, which is closed to the public.

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