Zeman Sought Criminal Immunity For His Office Staff, Confirms Justice Minister
Blazek said he had discussed certain pardons and abolitions with Zeman. Photo credit: Czech Ministry of Justice, via Twitter.
Prague, March 20 (CTK) – Former President Milos Zeman asked Prime Minister Petr Fiala on two occasions to co-sign legal abolition orders to protect his office staff from criminal prosecution, said Justice Minister Pavel Blazek in an interview with Seznam Zpravy. Zeman denied in the media having asked Fiala for this.
According to previous media reports, Zeman wanted the abolition to halt the prosecution of his office head Vratislav Mynar, and to prevent the prosecution of some employees of the Presidential Office at Prague Castle in relation to the unauthorised shredding of a report on the Russian military intelligence’s involvement in the explosions in the ammunition dump in Vrbetice, and leaks of information from the BIS civilian counter-intelligence service to Prague Castle.
Fiala (ODS) refused to sign the abolitions, said the reports.
Blazek (ODS) said he had discussed certain pardons and abolitions with Zeman.
Asked whether the abolitions concerned the heads of the Lany presidential forest and the Presidential Office, Blazek said Zeman had been considering such solutions.
Legal abolitions can either halt criminal prosecution or order that prosecution not be launched in a particular case.
“President Zeman was convinced that the prosecution of (presidential forest administration manager) Milos Balak and Vratislav Mynar would never have been launched if they had not worked for him. He had a feeling that this was the only reason why law enforcement bodies were interested in them. He was talking about how sorry he felt about it and that he would like to sort it out in some way,” Blazek said.
The president of the Czech Republic has the right to grant pardons, amnesties and abolition orders. In the case of amnesties and abolition orders, the request must be co-signed by the PM or a cabinet member entrusted by the PM to do so.
Blazek said he had agreed with Fiala that the entire government would debate a possible request from the president to co-sign the abolition. “All I can say is that we, as the entire government, were making such a decision twice. First, last September and then now,” he said.
Zeman, whose second and final term in office expired on 8 March, previously denied seeking abolition for his aides in an interview with the Internet broadcaster XTV.
“I can responsibly state that neither in the case of the shredding of material nor in the case around the BIS, did I ask Prime Minister Fiala for any abolition, for the simple reason that there was no prosecution underway in these two cases as far as I knew . And abolition means halting the prosecution. If there is no prosecution, there is nothing to be halted,” Zeman said in January.
However, in the case of abolition, the president may also order that prosecution not be launched at all.
The server Denik N reported that Zeman had asked Fiala again to co-sign the abolition in early March, shortly before the president ended in office, in Mynar’s subsidy case and in another case connected with the Presidential Office.
Last March, Balak was sentenced to three years in prison, a fine of CZK 1.8 million, and a four-year ban from managing state companies for manipulation of a CZK 200 million public order in the Lany forest. Two days later, Zeman granted him a pardon that cancelled Balak’s sentence completely.
This March, another court gave Balak a fine of CZK 870,000 and a two-year disqualification order, banning him from working in organisations administering state property, in the case of stone quarrying in the Lany game preserve.
Mynar has been prosecuted since spring of 2021 on suspicion of his company Clever Management having unfairly received a CZK 6 million subsidy for the reconstruction of a boarding house in Osvetimany in the Zlín Region.