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“Rath circus is another Czech first”, quips Lidové Noviny. For the first time in the modern history of the Czech Republic, an MP, who has been charged with corruption and detained, will appear in parliament — under armed guard — to defend his mandate. Thereafter, MPs will vote on a motion to withdraw the parliamentary immunity of David Rath, the former governor of Central Bohemia who accused of accepting bribes sourced from European grants.

On 14 May, Rath was arrested in possession of a wine case containing 7 million koruna (approximately 280,000 euros). The MP subsequently remarked —

When I was ambushed by an armed commando, I was surprised to find that the case was full of money instead of bottles of wine. I know that the story seems bizarre, but life is full of incredible things.

Rath’s defence will be based on three points, explains Hospodářské Noviny: that he had no knowledge of the money, that he is the victim of a plot and that evidence from police wiretaps is not reliable. The presidents of all the parliamentary groups expect that Rath’s immunity will be rescinded, and that he will return to prison and face charges. If he is found guilty, he could face up to 12 years in jail.

“The David Rath show will be a disgrace,” notes Hospodářské Noviny, which wonders —

In the light of his case, should we consider including a clause in the constitution to the effect no one can be taken from a prison to appear before parliament? Or that a public representative who has been found guilty should automatically be deprived of his or her mandate? No. It appears paradoxical that a judge may not be an MP, while a criminal may hold office. However, the role of the constitution is to resolve conflicts between the different powers, and not individual moral conflicts.