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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, March 05, 2013 9:56 am

Czech president: Treason charges are political

The Associated Press

Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday dismissed a decision by lawmakers to press high treason charges against him as politically motivated.

Parliament's upper house, which is dominated by the left-wing opposition, voted Monday to file charges at the Constitutional Court against the conservative leader after he ordered an amnesty that included halting court proceedings in several high-profile fraud cases.

The move infuriated many Czechs who are fed up with what they see as widespread corruption.

In his first comments since the decision, Klaus said it was clear there was "a political aim" by his opponents and that the vote was "an attempt to taint my political term." Klaus ends 10 years in the traditionally ceremonial post on Thursday.

About 73,000 Czechs have signed a petition backing the charges, while Klaus' portrait has been torn down in schools and offices across the country.

A verdict by the Constitutional Court is expected in weeks but the worst punishment Klaus faces is the loss of his job and a ban on ever running again. The 71-year-old could also lose about $5,000 a month from a state pension for former presidents, including a contribution to pay for his office.

In a confidence boost for Klaus, the Constitutional Court refused to deal with a challenge to his amnesty decree filed by a group of 30 lawmakers from the upper house.

Ivo Pospisil, secretary general of the court, announced the court's decision on Tuesday but gave no details, saying they are still being worked out.