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Qatari prince sues Czech Republic

The case raises questions about separation of powers in the Czech judicial system.

The current civil suit stems from Al-Thani's 11-month detention during the criminal proceedings, in particular the several months time lapse between Nemec declaring Al-Thani be released and the affirmation of that decision by the high court. Now Al-Thani, whose family reportedly sits atop a billion dollar empire, is exploiting that loophole to sue the Czech state for 225,000 koruna (about $12,000) in damages.

Benesova, the former state attorney, said "'impropriety' [was] a weak term to be used” in describing the ministry's interference in the case, which resulted in Al-Thani being sent back to Qatar. This is not the only case in which former Justice Minister Nemec has openly appeared to interefere with the judicial process. “I called them 'the judicial mafia,'” Besenova said, referring to Nemec and a clique of insiders at the nexus of the justice ministry and the high court.

Ivan Pilip, a former education minister who, like Nemec, belonged to the now-defunct Freedom Union party, agreed with Benesova, saying the ministry had no business getting involved in the judicial process.

“It was not a standard procedure because the judiciary should be independent,” said Pilip, who left politics long before the Al-Thani scandal erupted. “And [Nemec] even said at the time that it was to stop international pressure. The justice ministry shouldn't interfere in court cases.”

In the email exchange Nemec insisted there was no pressure from the Qatari government, which is ruled by the Al-Thani family, saying, “Not pressure but a repeated demand; this is nothing out of the ordinary. Every state takes care of its citizens and makes efforts to help them in difficult situations.”

It would be difficult to change the climate that allows interference in the judicial system, according to Benesova.

“There is little or no respect for law in the Czech Republic generally speaking," she said. "And the political climate would need to change as well, because so far we have been pretending that we are observing the rule-of-law.”