Czech Political Parties Unite to Strip Babis of Parliamentary ImmunityČTK
Prague, Nov 21 (CTK) – The Czech Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), Civic Democrats (ODS), Social Democrats (CSSD), TOP 09 and the Pirates will back the release of ANO chairman Andrej Babis and his deputy Jaroslav Faltynek for prosecution, their members told CTK today, and other parties voiced the same stance earlier.
The police asked today the Chamber of Deputies to release the two over a suspected EU subsidy fraud related to Babis’s Stork Nest (Capi hnizdo) company.
A majority of the deputies present is needed for the Chamber to release its member for prosecution.
ANO, the winner of the October 20-21 elections whose chairman Babis is forming a minority one-colour government, has 78 seats in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
The ODS has 25 seats, the Pirates and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) 22 seats each, the Communists (KSCM) and the CSSD 15 the KDU-CSL 10, TOP 09 seven and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) six.
The position of the SPD movement, which is otherwise prone to cooperating with ANO in certain respects, will be important for the Chamber’s final decision on Babis and Faltynek. The SPD previously said it would comply with the police request. Today, SPD chairman Tomio Okamura said the party first wants to study the police file.
The KDU-CSL board today recommended that the KDU-CSL deputies vote for the release of the two.
“I want the case to be resolved once for ever,” KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka said.
“If the request is identical with the previous one, I will support the release of the two,” CSSD deputy chairman Jan Hamacek said.
Babis and Faltynek were released once before by the previous Chamber of Deputies but the police suspended their prosecution after they were re-elected lawmakers in the October 20-21 general election.
CSSD deputy chairman Jan Birke, too, said he will vote for the release. “It seems that the police are not short of evidence on the case, otherwise they would have waited with submitting their request,” Birke said.
“I will vote like before,” Jana Cernochova, from the ODS deputies’ group that voted for the release earlier this year, said.
ODS chairman Petr Fiala tweeted that all ODS deputies will support the release of Babis and Faltynek for prosecution.
Vojtech Pikal, the Pirates’ candidate for the post of a lower house chairman, said “the step is expected and correct. The situation has not essentially changed since the [police’s] previous request.”
Pikal said the Pirates previously agreed to support the release.
Pirate chairman Ivan Bartos, nevertheless, said the Chamber’s vote might also be influenced by the Chamber’s mandate and immunity committee’s setup as approved by the Chamber on Monday.
Bartos said he knows that it is up to the plenum to decide, but many deputies may derive their position from the recommendation to be given by the above committee, in which ANO and the SPD will prevail.
Okamura said the SPD was not represented in the mandate and immunity committee in the previous election term, and therefore it could not study the police file. SPD representatives in the new committee will do so now and will convey the information to the rest of the SPD deputies.
“If the file does not contain any new experiences but those we heard about before, we will vote like before, which means for the release,” Okamura said.
Mayors and Independents (STAN) chairman Petr Gazdik said he will most probably support the release. “Most probably yes. First, we will acquaint ourselves with the police documents in the mandate and immunity committee. Afterwards we will announce our conclusion,” Gazdik said.
The Communists (KSCM) would not anticipate their way of voting on the police request.
“We do not know whether the request is the same as the previous one. We will wait until the mandate and immunity committee is established,” KSCM deputy head Pavel Kovacik told CTK.
The last of the nine parties in parliament, TOP 09, will enable the Stork Nest affair to be assessed by impartial bodies and, like in the previous term, its deputies will support the release of Babis and Faltynek for criminal prosecution, TOP 09 deputy chairwoman Marketa Pekarova Adamova said.