Justice Minister Pelikan: Leaving Politics After Defying Zeman In Extradition CaseČTK
Prague, April 7 (CTK) – Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) will not be in the next government led by the ANO movement, which is likely to be formed within a few months, and he wants to give up his seat in the lower house of Czech parliament as well, he told Aktualne.cz server today.
Pelikan said he would leave politics also because his opinions differ from those of ANO, but he added he would remain a member of the movement.
“It is very hard for me to find understanding with a number of ANO lawmakers concerning human rights,” Pelikan, who heads the government’s council for human rights, said.
ANO leader Andrej Babis, the current prime minister, said Pelikan first told him about his plan to withdraw from politics one month ago.
Babis told Aktualne Pelikan headed a difficult ministry and worked well.
He said ANO will miss Pelikan because he represented the voice of city liberals in the movement.
Babis said Pelikan felt that ANO’s new parliamentary group, formed last autumn, had different stances on some issues. As an example, Babis mentioned the nomination of Zdenek Ondracek, who was one of the riot police who intervened against anti-communist protesters in 1989, for the head of a lower house commission supervising a police supervisory body.
Pelikan has also been sharply opposed to any cooperation with the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) anti-immigrant populist movement of Tomio Okamura, which he labelled a fascist party. He condemned Okamura’s statements about a WW2 camp for the Roma, which he considered challenging the Roma Holocaust.
Okamura told Czech Television (CT) today that Pelikan’s departure would be no big loss for either Czech politis or the Justice Ministry.
Pelikan said the case of Russian alleged hacker Yevgenyi Nikulin whom he extradited to the USA contributed to his decision to leave politics. “I expected that it would provoke hostile reactions of some political bodies in the Czech Republic and I did not want to burden the negotiations about a future government with it,” he said.
President Milos Zeman previously asked Pelikan to extradite Nikulin to Russia. The Communists (KSCM) also criticised Pelikan’s decision, while the right-wing opposition praised it. Zeman claimed that Nikulin’s extradition to the USA may be abused for an attempt to challenge the result of the U.S. presidential election in which Donald Trump won.
KSCM leader Vojtech Filip said today he would ask Pelikan about Nikulin during the regular questioning of ministers in parliament. Pelikan also failed to complete a lot of work at the Justice Ministry, Filip said.
Before he leaves politics, Pelikan would like the lower house of parliament to pass changes in laws helping people who fell in a debt trap, he told Aktualne.cz.
He said his other work now concerned collective complaints, ankle monitors and a new way of selecting judges.
He said he cannot offer his resignation because Babis’s minority cabinet has been ruling in resignation since January after it did not win the confidence of the lower house of parliament. If he left his post, a new minister could not replace him until the appointment of a new cabinet and there were tasks only a minister was authorised to do, he added.
Pelikan said he always considered his work of minister only a temporary episode after which he would return to his profession of a lawyer. Aside from becoming justice minister, he has no other political ambition, he said.
Pelikan, 38, comes from a family of lawyers. His mother, Irena Pelikanova, has been a judge of the General Court (ECG) of the Court of Justice of the European Union since 2004. He was first deputy justice minister from June 2014. He has been justice minister since March 2015. He joined ANO in 2015 and was elected to the lower house of parliament for it last autumn.