Prague, Sept 18 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman appointed today Michal Mazanec, 67, the new chairman of the Czech Supreme Administrative Court (NSS), who will replace Josef Baxa in the post as of October 1.
The mandate of Baxa, the first and so far only chairman of the NSS since its establishment, will expire on September 30.
“I discussed this nomination with many lawyers. Finally, I heeded the advice of Marie Benesova, a former supreme state attorney, who unambiguously recommended doctor Mazanec’s appointment,” Zeman said.
He thanked Baxa, who attended the ceremony today, as did Justice Minister Jan Knezinek, for his work at the NSS head.
The mandate of the NSS chairperson is ten years long.
Mazanec, however, will head it for slightly over three years at the most, since in 2021, he will turn 70, the age when judges’ posts expire.
Within the preceding discussion about his successor, Baxa repeatedly voiced his support for potential candidates who could remain in the top NSS post for the whole ten-year mandate.
Zeman called on Mazanec not to allow himself to be influenced by “would-be environmental movements that hamper a number of useful transport projects.”
“While touring the Moravia-Silesia Region, they told me about the suspicion that these [environmentalists’] lawsuits actually amount to blackmail. This means that such a lawsuit would be withdrawn if you promise a sponsorship gift [to the complainants]. I do not know whether this is true, I am only citing what I was told,” Zeman said.
He mentioned three concrete cases in which he disagreed with the NSS’s decision.
First, it was the halting of the construction of a lock in Prelouc, east Bohemia, which was to make another section of the Labe (Elbe) River navigable. For the sake of the dusky large blue, a butterfly species, the NSS prevented the investment project worth four billion crowns.
Second, it was the suspension of the South Moravia Region’s territorial plan.
“Whenever I meet my Austrian colleagues, I have to face their rightful reproaches over a lacking motorway to connect Brno with Vienna,” Zeman said.
He also criticised the NSS’s decision to halt the construction of a road in the Zlin Region, south Moravia, due to the protection of the European hamster.
“I always believed that hamsters are vermin, but I see now that this is not the case,” he said with sarcasm.
Mazanec told Zeman that he wants to establish closer contacts with regional courts and their administrative judicial sections, which, he said, has been neglected so far due to the rising number of cassation complaints and a time shortage.
Recently, Mazanec said he would also focus on legislation, since the law on the NSS needs an amendment.
Mazanec, a graduate from Charles University’s Faculty of Law, ranks among the most respected experts in administrative law.
He used to be a prosecutor. In the 1980s, he was a member of the Communist Party.
After the fall of the communist regime, he became the head of the legal and legislative section at the Culture Ministry. In 1992, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court’s (NS) administrative judicial section. One year later, he became a judge of the High Court in Prague. He was also a member of the Government Legislative Council.
In 2000-2001, Mazanec assisted in the administrative judiciary’s reform. In 2003 already, he was among the candidates for chairmanship of the then newly established NSS, but the post finally went to Baxa and Mazanec became a NSS deputy chairman. He kept the post for 15 years before being promoted to chairman now.
Baxa will continue working with the NSS as one of its judges. The NSS’s new deputy chairperson will be Barbara Porizkova. She has had a meeting with Zeman already, but the date of her appointment is yet to be set.