Are Babis’s Immunity Worries Over? Chairman Vondracek Thinks SoČTK
Prague, Dec 1 (CTK) – The Czech unions of judges and state attorneys protested today against the statements by Chamber of Deputies chairman Radek Vondracek (ANO) about the MPs’ vote on the release of ANO leader and next PM Andrej Babis for prosecution.
The Union of Judges points out in its statement released on its website that Vondracek, the third supreme elected official of the country, is questioning a democratic rule of law. The Union of State Attorneys expressed the same view later today.
In the Vaclav Moravec’s Questions TV debate on Sunday, Vondracek said the lawmakers’ vote on the release of Babis will be “a little bit different decision-making because we will be deciding on what is better for this situation and this country, since the man in question will be prime minister and will be forming a government.”
Babis and ANO deputy chairman Jaroslav Faltynek were released for prosecution on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud by the previous lower house, but as they were re-elected deputies in October, the police had to ask the new Chamber of Deputies for their release again, which they did last week.
The Union of Judges, representing more than a half of Czech judges, criticised Vondracek’s statements. It says he is thereby relativising not only the independence of the police and the system of state attorneys’ offices, but also of courts as a consequence.
“As the third supreme elected official of the Czech Republic, he is also questioning the fact that the Czech Republic is a democratic law-abiding state based on respect for human rights, including the citizens’ equality before the law,” the judges wrote.
State attorneys expressed the same view, saying their union fully identified itself with the statement of the Judges’ Union, State Attorneys’ Union spokesman Ondrej Stastny told CTK.
Vondracek’s words were mainly criticised by his opponents from right-wing parties. They also pointed out that ANO was for limiting the lawmakers’ immunity.
Vondracek said in the Chamber of Deputies later that his statement on TV was to emphasise that the lawmakers should check the reasons for Babis’s proposed prosecution consistently and carefully, regarding his future position as the new prime minister.
Babis and Faltynek are prosecuted on suspicion of an EU subsidy fraud in the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) case.
Until 2007, the Farma Capi hnizdo company belonged to Babis’s Agrofert Holding. Afterwards, its stake was transferred to bearer shares for a small firm to reach a 50-million-crown EU subsidy, which a firm of the huge Agrofert Holding could never get. It observed this condition for a few years, but later it again returned to Babis’s concern.
Billionaire businessman Babis transferred the Agrofert concern, including some media outlets, to trust funds in February to comply with an amended conflict of interest law.
Babis and Faltynek deny any wrongdoing and say their prosecution is politically motivated.
ANO smoothly won the October general election and Babis, who is to be appointed prime minister on December 6, is forming his one-colour minority government.