After Czech president hospitalized, Czech election turmoil spreads as police open investigation into ‘crimes against the republic’

Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman, in wheelchair, welcomes his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right, at the Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
By Lucie Ctverakova
4 Min Read

The Czech police will start an investigation into possible illegal actions showing signs of crimes against the republic, police announced on Twitter on Tuesday. The investigation is in connection with information shared at Monday’s Senate press conference, but authorities added that they could not currently provide further information.

Senate President Miloš Vystrčil said on Monday that, according to the Central Military Hospital, President Miloš Zeman was unable to perform any work duties. Vystrčil added that Vratislav Mynář, head of the president’s office, had known about the hospital’s position since Oct. 13.

The position of president in Czechia is largely ceremonial, but his role takes on new importance after an election, with the president asking who will form a new government, as well accepting a prime minister’s resigation and convening parliament. Zeman fell ill and went to the hospital the day after the election, raising doubts about a smooth transition of power.

Despite Zeman’s reportedly severe illness, the president’s office announced the day after that Miloš Zeman had signed an important document convening the Chamber of Deputies with the MPs elected in recent elections. Mynář also invited the President of the Chamber of Deputies Radek Vondráček to the Intensive Care Unit. Vondráček then reported on the president’s condition, reporting that Zeman made some jokes during the visit.

After another four days, the police announced that they were beginning to investigate these events as one of the crimes against the republic. There are reports that Zeman’s signature may have been forged.

Based on the definition in the Czech criminal code, the police may investigate suspicion of sabotage, a crime, which means that the perpetrator abused his position or employment to “damage the constitutional system or the defense of the Czech Republic.”

According to the criminal code, there are more so-called crimes “against the foundations of the Czech Republic.” But most of them are quite specific: the subversion of the republic, a terrorist attack, or treason.

However, the sabotage charge means that someone paralyzes the activities of an important office.

“Of the crimes against the republic, sabotage is the only one relevant crime police might be investigating,” confirmed Jan Dupák, a lawyer at Transparency International.

Police have not disclosed exactly what they will be looking for. They only confirmed that it has to do with the report of doctors from the Central Military Hospital in Prague about the president’s inability to perform his duties.

The essence of the police investigation is likely suspicion that President’s Chancellor Mynář, or other people from Zeman’s team, deliberately kept secret the opinion of the hospital on Zeman’s ability to hold office. That means they would unlawfully take over president’s duties. The police thus have to review documents signed by Zeman in recent days — a sign that they may suspect a forgery.

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