Czech PM suspected of misdemeanor for appointing finance minister
Prague, April 3 (ČTK) — Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, ČSSD) faces administrative proceedings on suspicion of having committed a misdemeanor when he proposed Andrej Babiš (ANO) for finance minister without demanding a lustration certificate from him, news server Novinky.cz. reported today.
A negative lustration (screening) certificate, which future government members were supposed to submit, would refute collaboration with the former communist secret police (StB) of which billionaire businessman Babiš is suspected.
A request for administrative proceedings against Sobotka was filed with the Prague 1 Town Hall, Prague 1 mayor Oldřich Lomecký (TOP 09) told ČTK today.
His office also received the same proposal for President Miloš Zeman who appointed Babiš minister without a negative lustration certificate. However, no administrative proceedings can be launched against the head of state, Lomecký said.
Both proposals were filed on March 24 by the same person, he added.
The Prague 1 office has already sent a letter to Sobotka asking him whether he will use his deputy’s immunity or take part in the proceedings at the Town Hall.
Sobotka, who pleads not guilty, said he would attend the administrative proceedings in which he faces a fine of 5000 Kč.
If Sobotka used his immunity, the Chamber of Deputies immunity committee would deal with the case.
Sobotka said the case was the price to be paid for the formation of the coalition government with Babiš’s ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) as the only reasonable variant in the Chamber of Deputies.
“Babis did not ask for a lustration certificate and thus he had no one. If I had not proposed him for minister, we would not have had a new government and we would have faced political instability after the elections,” Sobotka said.
“In my opinion, I did not commit a misdemeanor by my proposal [of Babiš for minister]. However, it us up to the respective administrative body to decide on it,” he added.
Slovak-born food and media tycoon Babiš is registered as an informer and later an agent of the StB in its files that are preserved in Slovakia. He, however, claims that the documents were fabricated and is suing the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute (ÚPN), which administers the security forces’ files.
Babiš was also a member of the pre-1989 Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ).