Andrej Babis Milos Zeman


Constitutional Court Chairman: Time to Limit Lawmakers Immunity

Prague, (CTK) – It is time to reduce the immunity of Czech lawmakers to their statements and steps from the time of their mandate, Constitutional Court (US) chairman Pavel Rychetsky told the website of the public Czech Radio (CRo).


He said MPs should be released for criminal prosecution in other cases. “It is in the interest of the parliament to always decide to release an MP in all other cases,” he said.


The lower house of parliament is currently discussing whether to strip Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) and the ANO lower house group’s head, Jaroslav Faltynek, of their immunity over a suspected EU subsidy fraud concerning the Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest) conference centre.


The lower house released Babis and Faltynek for prosecution already last September, but the police had to apply for their release again since both politicians defended their MP’s mandates in the general election in October and thus regained their immunity.


Babis and Faltynek claim that the case is a politically motivated effort to harm them and their party. Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) said more or less the same.


Rychetsky said Pelikan should have been more reserved in his comments.


He also said the immunity should not apply to statements violating law made by an MP on Twitter.


Rychetsky criticised President Milos Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek for his tweets in which he judges constitutional officials. A civil servant as Ovcacek should be immediately sacked for this, he told CRo.


“I cannot imagine the Constitutional Court spokeswoman having a Twitter account and writing her personal assessment of the government,” he said.


Rychetsky said Czech presidents do not seem to want to have people capable of leading a dialogue with them including critical stances in their office.


“The post of president seems to have a negative impact on human personality because all three Czech presidents demanded during their term of office that they be surrounded by people who agreed with them,” he said, referring to the late Vaclav Havel, Vaclav Klaus and Zeman who is defending his post in a direct election this month.


Rychetsky, 74, has been heading the US since 2003. He originally planned to resign already, but he said he still feels fit despite his age. “I have no problems so far. I play tennis twice a week, go skiing in winter, and I am able to execute this position,” he said.


Rychetsky was proposed as a possible candidate for president in the past, but he said he would not run for the post because of his family and the work at the US.


The biggest favourite for the next US head is Supreme Administrative Court chairman Josef Baxa.


Rychetsky said it seemed that the possible candidacy of Baxa is not as clearly supported as it was several years ago.


He said people around Zeman might have their own favourite for the post.