Czech Republic: No amnesty for the corrupt
24 January 2013
Hospodářské Noviny, Respekt
The amnesty decreed by outgoing President Václav Klaus on January 1 "is unconstitutional," says Czech financial daily Hospodářské noviny, commenting on a ruling by the Prague city court that the decree violates the Czech Constitution. The court said that Klaus announced the decree on the anniversary of the division of Czechoslovakia without discussing it previously with the cabinet. The measure is controversial because, among the 7,000 prisoners pardoned, some are responsible for corruption during the privatisation of considerable government assets during the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"The amnesty is another step towards saving crooks," argues the weekly Respekt, which notes the agreement reached in 1998 between conservative then-Prime Minister Václav Klaus, and the head of the Left opposition at the time – and current candidate for president – Miloš Zeman and which –
practically halted any wish the police or the judiciary might have had to investigate cases of corruption during the privatisation process.
The controversial "Klaus" amnesty should nonetheless be cancelled," says Hospodářské noviny because both Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg, the two candidates facing off in the January 25-26 runoff for the presidential election, agree on this point.