The court ruled definitively: Zeman acted illegally, he had to decide again on Fajt


Zeman refuses to appoint Fajt repeatedly, despite a proposal from the Scientific Council. “It is not up to the president to assess issues of substantive law or qualifications and the professionalism of the candidate, this belongs to the university bodies,” said Judge Milan Tauber.

“It is up to the president to deal with possible serious procedural defects, such as the fact that the scientific commission of the university did not decide in the composition in which it was to decide, or that the result of the vote was incorrectly captured,” the judge added.

After the hearing, the castle’s lawyer stated that Zeman would probably file a cassation complaint against the verdict with the Supreme Administrative Court.

In 2015, Zeman decided not to appoint Fajta as a professor because he was supposed to ask the bank for a sponsorship gift as a supplement to his salary to the director of the National Gallery.

Zeman later abandoned this argument and justified his re-appointment of Fajt not to appoint a professor in 2018 as “explicitly untrue and misleading documents and information” which Fajt, according to Zeman, submitted to the university during the procedure for appointment as a professor. According to Zeman, the university could not carry out the proceedings properly.

Jiří Fajt

Photo: Jan Handrejch, Law

Two years ago, the court annulled Zeman’s decision not to appoint Fajta as a professor, stating that no executive body could re-assess whether a candidate met the conditions for appointment after a proper procedure for appointment as a professor. But half a year later, Zeman decided again not to appoint Fajta a professor.

“I consider that Mr. Associate Professor Fajt duly completed the procedure concerning the appointment as a professor,” said Martin Bělina, the lawyer of the university and Fajt himself, in court on Monday.

However, Tomáš Rousek from the Office of the President of the Republic countered by saying that Zeman clearly pointed out procedural defects. These were supposed to be allegedly misleading information about Fajt’s publishing and pedagogical activities. According to Rousek, Zeman also maintains that there is no legal right to be appointed as a professor and that the decision not to appoint is not subject to review by the administrative judiciary.

“The plaintiff party is trying to get the president of the republic into a sort of official box,” Rousek concluded. “The president of the republic is not a vassal of the university,” Rousek added after the meeting.

A year ago, Fajta was removed from the position of director of the National Gallery by the then Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk, which raised a wave of criticism and provoked a government crisis. According to the opposition, Staněk tried to please Zeman with Fajt’s appeal. Ivan Morávek, the former director of the Penam bakeries belonging to the Agrofert holding, has been appointed the new director of the National Gallery.

In addition, Staněk filed two criminal complaints against Fajta due to a suspicious copyright agreement or lease agreements. However, after the investigation, the police postponed both of them as unfounded this year, and the current Minister of Culture, Lubomír Zaorálek, apologized to Fajt on behalf of the ministry.

Similarly, Zeman will have to deal with the non-appointment of physicist Ivan Ošťádal. He mentioned his contact with the StB as the reason for his non-appointment. Ošťádal himself had previously publicly admitted that the StB provided a cover address for correspondence from abroad, stating that he was “young and naive”. However, the castle lawyer Marek Nespala called Ošťádal an agent, Zeman in the past directly as a “superagent” of the StB.

The court always annulled Zeman’s decision not to appoint Ošťádal as a professor, stating that it was not up to Zeman as president to interfere in the autonomy of universities. On the contrary, the court emphasized that the suitability of candidates for a professor is assessed by the Scientific Council and the expert evaluation commission, not by the Minister of Education or the President of the Republic, who cannot assess the suitability professionally enough.

The castle will defend itself against the decision with a cassation complaint. However, the Supreme Administrative Court did not grant a suspensive effect, so Zeman must decide again on Ošťádal’s appointment. The SAC will only deal with the cassation complaint itself.

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