Czech President Charged With High Treason in Last Week of Presidency


Credit: World Economic Forum/flickr

Earlier this year Czech President Vaclav Klaus pardoned almost one third of prisoners. Today, Czech lawmakers in the upper house of parliament voted narrowly to impeach Klaus for high treason, referring the outgoing president to the constitutional court, which will rule if the amnesty and other decisions Klaus made as president were unconstitutional.

From the BBC

The wide-ranging measures were controversial as they resulted in multiple high-profile corruption cases being suspended.

Mr Klaus's term as president of the country is due to end on Thursday.

Thirty-eight senators in the 81-seat house, controlled by the left-wing opposition, voted to impeach the president, with 30 voting against. Only the Senate has such power in the Czech legal system.

The worst punishment he faces is the loss of his presidential job, a role the 71-year-old must relinquish later this week having served two terms in office.

The opposition is upset that Klaus ended the prosecutions of some people being investigated for embezzlement. In addition, the opposition alleges that it was unconstitutional for Klaus not to ratify some European Union legislation, including the plan to set up the European Stability Mechanism eurozone bailout fund.

The move is symbolic; the worst punishment that Klaus could be facing is being removed from office (his second term as president ends on Thursday), having his pension withheld, and not being able to stand for office again.

While Klaus is often regarded as one of Europe's best know Eurosceptics and Thatcherite advocate of free trade his record on economic reform has been patchy at best. Read Matt Welch on Vaclav Klaus here, here, and here.