published: 04.03.2013, 17:24 | updated: 04.03.2013 17:29:43
Prague - The Czech Senate passed a constitutional complaint about President Vaclav Klaus over high treason for his New Year amnesty and his reluctance to sign international treaties and to appoint judges today.
It is the first ever complaint about the president in the history of the Czech Republic. The proposal was approved by 38 senators, while the remaining 30 present were against it.
The Senate election commission has confirmed the results of the vote held after a closed session.
Under the law on the Constitutional Court, high treason means "the president's conduct aimed at the national sovereignty and integrity as well as its democratic order."
It is punished with the loss of the presidential office and the eligibility for acquiring it again.
The upper house will be represented by one of the drafters of the complaint, Social Democrat (CSSD) deputy chairman Jiri Dienstbier.
Dienstbier said the Senate had fulfilled its duty to protect constitutional principles and it could not keep silent in the situation in which Klaus had repeatedly violated the constitution.
"Disregard for rules leads to the anti-constitutional road. The Senate had to prevent this," Dienstbier said, adding that protecting the constitutional rules was important at any moment.
"We want to hear the view of the Constitutional Court on what high treason means. We want to hear how far a president can go when rejecting the recommendations by the parliament and desires of the Czech people," chairman of the Senate constitutional and legal committee Miroslav Antl (CSSD), said.
Jaroslav Kubera, chairman of the senators for the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) who opposed the motion in unison, said the vote meant that now everything could happen in the Czech Republic.
The Senate has let a djinn out of the bottle and society will be more divided than ever, Kubera said.
Abroad, the decision will be seen as the Czech Republic impeaching its own president three days before the end of his term in office, Kubera said.
Dienstbier said given Klaus's personality, the international community would tend to understand the step.
Some critics likened the Senate's decision to a ritual execution of a chieftain whose term expires.
Klaus's second and last term of office ends on March 7. The convicted president also loses the right to the salary and perks after the end of his term of office.
Along with the New Year amnesty, the senators have filed the complaint because, they say, he failed to sign the addendum to the Lisbon Treaty on the new rescue fund of the euro zone and he was dragging his feet when having to sign an addendum to the European Social Charter.
Besides, they argue that for almost one year he failed to name any constitutional judges. Except for two failed attempts, he did not propose anyone for approval to the Senate, "whereby he seriously threatened the proper working of the Constitutional Court," the senators said.
Klaus's amnesty applies to convicts with low suspended or prison sentences and elderly convicts and it also halts criminal proceedings if they lasted for more than eight years, and if the maximum prison sentence that can be imposed in such cases does not exceed ten years.
This provision was sharply criticised since it applies to some high-profile corruption and financial crime cases.
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