Two leading judges of the High Court in Prague were invited to the Euro football in France four years ago.
The Football Association of the Czech Republic (FACR), then led by Miroslav Pelta (now convicted of manipulating subsidies), paid to the then President of the High Court in Prague Jaroslav Bureš and Vice-President Stanislav Bernard and their relatives (son and wife) tours worth around 123 thousand crowns .
While the case is closed for Jaroslav Bureš because he has already passed his judicial mandate for health reasons, he has finished for Stanislav Bernard. His superior, the new president of the High Court in Prague, Luboš Dörfl, called for his resignation.
Stanislav Bernard did not heed the call, but his position in court is changing. “Dr. Bernard was assigned some administrative agendas, ie criminal activity, case law, relations with regional courts and the like. It will no longer do that, “said Luboš Dörfl in an interview with Seznam Zprávy.
Among other things, he explains how Bernard’s case can benefit the judges and how he affected relations at the High Court in Prague.
After publishing the information on how the vice-president of the court was invited to a football trip to France, you said that this raised doubts in you and you would investigate the whole matter. Do you already have the result?
As far as Vice-President Stanislav Bernard is concerned, I would normally file a disciplinary action and leave the decision on a possible sentence to the disciplinary panel. The problem, however, is that the law gives a three-year limitation period and then the disciplinary court does not deal with these cases.
The case is time-barred, the disciplinary court will not sit, so the decision was up to you…
I discussed the opinion with the members of the Judicial Council to get feedback and find out how they perceive it. I must say that everyone has confirmed that the Vice-President’s behavior is across the line. In the end, therefore, I called on Mr Stanislav Bernard to take personal responsibility and resign as Deputy Chairman of the Board.
He decided not to resign. He believes that the whole event was not connected with a judge’s mandate, but it was related to voluntary activities in football, where he worked for many years as chairman of the arbitration commission and the FACR Legislative Council.
He will remain vice-president of the High Court, as he cannot be removed from office. Only the disciplinary senate has this competence. What I can do are change his work schedule. From June 1, he will only deal with his cases and will not participate in any way in the court proceedings as a vice-president.
How will his work agenda really change?
The vice-presidents of the courts have delegated powers from the president of the court. This means that it manages its sections. Dr. Bernard was assigned some administrative agendas, that is, criminal activity, case law, relations with regional courts, and the like. He will no longer do that.
Was there a financial penalty?
I have no authority to do that.
So all you can do is do what you did?
The Municipal Court in Prague is currently resolving the case of the distribution of sports subsidies. Among the defendants is Miroslav Pelta, who, in the role of former chairman of the FACR, decided to pay for a trip for football to Judge Stanislav Bernard. In the event of an appeal, the case will be decided by the High Court in Prague. Will it not raise doubts?
I can’t imagine that Stanislav Bernard would have a chance to influence criminal proceedings in any matter. I believe that legal insurance is sufficient. Subjectively, I’m not worried about that, but I understand that this is a serious situation for the public. That is why I have taken at least the steps that the Vice-President will not carry out any management activities.
In any case, it does not bear a good light towards the public.
I am not happy about this, because I have to explain it to the public, but we have agreed that there is a great lesson to be learned not only for Mr Bernard, but for the judge in general. It is good that you have stirred up the case, that it is being talked about, even though we are uncomfortable with the case. It acts as a general prevention. That judges need to be more careful. They must realize that ethical rules are stricter for them than for anyone else. And they don’t always realize it.
Did it change your relationship with Stanislav Bernard in any way?
Telling someone that you don’t want to work with them because you think they made a mistake they don’t want to admit will probably change your relationship. We are not enemies, but relationships are not as good as they were.