PM Fiala Refused Zeman’s Request For Pre-Emptive Pardon For Allies

The Ministry of Justice also did not wish to comment on the matter. Photo credit: hrad.cz.

Prague, Jan 20 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman asked PM Petr Fiala to co-sign a legal order last summer to prevent the launch of prosecutions in two cases related to Zeman’s closest allies. However, Fiala refused to sign it, according to reports by Denik N today, citing eight reliable sources.

A spokesman for Fiala (ODS), Vaclav Smolka, told CTK that the prime minister would not comment on the issue. “Thank you for understanding,” he said.

The Ministry of Justice also did not wish to comment on the matter, it wrote on social media.

One of the cases was the unauthorised shredding of classified documents related to the explosions at the ammunition depots in Vrbetice in 2014.

Two blasts of ammunition depots occurred in Vrbetice in October and December 2014, the first killing two people. In April 2021, then-PM Andrej Babis (ANO) said the Czech security services suspected Russian GRU secret service officers of being behind the blasts. The affair resulted in a diplomatic rift between the Czech Republic and Russia and mutual expulsions of diplomats. Russia has denied that its agents were involved in the explosions.

In January 2022, the police came to the president’s office in Prague Castle to seek the report, but staff said it had been shredded by mistake.

The shredding of the documents was ordered by Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar, Denik N wrote, noting that the case could also be linked to Jan Novak, head of the office’s security section. The police were dealing with the suspicion that the documents had been handled by people without sufficient security clearance from the National Security Office; the paper noted that neither Mynar nor Novak had this clearance.

The other case was related to the suspicion that a BIS civilian counterintelligence service officer had been passing secret information about the wiretapping of the president’s allies to the Presidential Office.

The president himself has previously talked about this matter. He said that BIS chief Michal Koudelka had ordered the wiretapping of the president’s allies and the president himself.

After Zeman’s statements, BIS, monitored by the Prague High Public Prosecutor’s Office, started to investigate the case. The lower house commission overseeing BIS activities said last December that it had no information about the secret service acting contrary to the law.

“In summer, Zeman sent a written request to the Government Office of PM Petr Fiala for him to co-sign the inadmissibility of the two prosecutions in these two cases. However, Fiala did not sign the abolition,” Denik N wrote, referring to eight trustworthy sources from Fiala’s cabinet, the Prague Castle and the Government Office. The report added that Zeman had not mentioned any specific names.

The prime minister discussed the matter informally with members of his government and they supported him in his decision not to sign the order.

Presidential candidate Petr Pavel said he considered the president’s alleged request inappropriate. He said the head of state should not ask the prime minister to co-sign such an order when the rules and maybe even the law have been broken, because the president thus indicates that the rules apply only to some. Pavel added that in the “normal system,” the shredding of classified documents leads to the person losing their security clearance.

The Czech president has the right to grant pardons, amnesties and prevention orders (Czech: abolice). In order to grant amnesty and prevention orders, they need the signature of the prime minister or a cabinet member authorised by the prime minister.

When a prevention order is granted, the president orders that prosecution for a certain criminal offence should not be launched, and if it has been launched already, then the order is for the prosecution to cease.

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