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Czech Parliament Impeaches Outgoing President Over Amnesty

President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus. i i

President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus. Ferenc Isza /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ferenc Isza /AFP/Getty Images
President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus.

President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus.

Ferenc Isza /AFP/Getty Images

Czech President Vaclav Klaus is due to leave office this week. But, today, the country's upper house of Parliament handed him quite a going-away gift: They impeached him for treason and referred his case to the Constitutional Court.

Reuters reports that his left-wing opponents are angry because he granted amnesty to thousands of prisoners. The court will decide whether those pardons violated the constitution

Reuters adds:

"The upper house voted 38 to 30 in a closed session to bring charges against the president.

"The biggest punishment he faces, if found guilty, is losing office, his presidential pension and the right to stand again in future. That is mild given Klaus's second and final consecutive term runs out on Thursday."

The BBC reports that the outrage is less about the release of prisoners and more about Klaus' order to halt some ongoing prosecutions. The BBC explains:

"In one fell swoop, a dozen high-profile corruption cases - cases that involve millions of dollars in asset-stripping, bribes and fraud - were thrown out.

"The halted prosecutions included that of prominent businessman Tomas Pitr for alleged tax fraud and that of former football association chief Frantisek Chvalovsky for embezzlement."

The Associated Press reports that Klaus issued the pardons to "mark the country's 20th anniversary of independence."

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