Prosecutors Drop Inquiry Into Presidential Pardon of Businessman

Zeman pardoned businessman Pavel Podrouzek on compassionate grounds in September 2021. Photo credit:  

Prague, Oct 24 (CTK) – The investigation into the pardon granted by President Milos Zeman to businessman Pavel Podrouzek on compassionate grounds related to a serious illness has ended. The prosecutor has accepted the police conclusion to shelve the case as no crime was committed, Prague 2 District Prosecutor’s Office head Tomas Svoboda told CTK yesterday.

Detectives from the National Centre Against Organised Crime (NCOZ) were investigating suspected fraud related to the forging and changing of medical certificates used as justification for the pardon. According to media reports, Podrouzek had kept running his business, managing his firms and travelling after the pardon.

“The public prosecutor has examined the new resolution on shelving the case and accepted it,” said Svoboda.

The police are shelving the case for a second time; the supervising public prosecutor had previously cancelled an earlier police decision from July as unlawful and unsubstantiated, and returned the case to the police to complete the investigation.

In September 2021, Zeman pardoned Podrouzek, a businessman from Olomouc, who was being prosecuted by Prague police on suspicion of tax evasion worth CZK 9.7 million. The pardon was counter-signed by then PM Andrej Babis (ANO). The Presidential Office argued at the time that Podrouzek was suffering from a serious chronic disease of several organs, threatening his life.

However, radio server then reported that the pardoned man had joined the boards of six companies since 2019, and let one of the companies enter the register ten days after being pardoned.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek then said that Zeman had based his decision on a medical report. Podrouzek said in reaction that the pardon was “an immense surprise” to him. It was his mother who had sought the presidential pardon.

The Ministry of Justice submitted the request to the Presidential Office. Justice Minister Marie Benesova (ANO) cited the GP’s report, saying the man suffered from chronic liver disease, chronic pancreatic inflammation, oesophagus disease and chronic heart failure as well as anaemia and depression, and his life expectancy was therefore reduced.

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