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Outgoing Czech President Vaclav Klaus Faces Treason Charges

The Czech Republic's upper house of parliament, the Senate, voted on Monday to impeach outgoing President Vaclav Klaus and charge him with high treason over a controversial New Year amnesty as well as his reluctance to ratify European treaties and to appoint judges despite being ordered by courts to do so.

The proposal was approved by 38 senators in the 81-seat house, which is currently being dominated by the left-wing opposition. Of the 68 lawmakers present at the Senate for Monday's vote, 30 Senators voted against the proposal.

With Monday's Senate vote, it is now up to the Constitutional Court to determine whether Klaus had violated the constitution with his actions while in office, particularly the New Year amnesty and his reluctance to sign European treaties.

Earlier, Klaus had granted amnesty to some 7,000 prisoners and halted several high-profile corruption cases in January to mark the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic's break away from the communist state of Czechoslovakia. Notably, his decision to halt court proceedings in several high-profile fraud cases had triggered wide-spread public anger in the country.

The Senators were also infuriated by several of Klaus' actions while in office, including the delay in signing the EU's Lisbon Treaty in 2009 and his refusal to sign an addendum to the European Social Charter, as well as the eurozone's new bailout fund despite parliamentary approval.

The latest development comes just days before Klaus steps down after two consecutive terms in office on March 7. If convicted by the Constitutional court, Klaus would loose his presidential pension and will be forbidden from running again for office.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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