Thursday, 24 April 2014

Court releases lobbyist Dalík

ČTK |
11 October 2012

Prague, Oct 10 (CTK) - The Prague 4 court Wednesday released lobbyist Marek Dalik, suspected of fraud linked to the purchase of the Pandur armoured personnel carriers (APCs) for the Czech military, from detention, Dalik's lawyer Tomas Sokol told journalists.

The court rejected the state attorney's request that he be taken into custody, Sokol said.

The attorney wanted Dalik to be taken into custody for fear of flight and witnesses influencing.

The police say Dalik, former prime minister Mirek Topolanek's (Civic Democrats, ODS) aide, committed an attempted fraud when he asked for a bribe in the negotiations about the purchase of Pandurs for the Czech military without being able to influence anything.

Dalik faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty.

Court deputy chairwoman Libuse Jungova said Wednesday the court did not strip Dalik of his passport even though he himself offered it to the court.

She said there is no threat of Dalik fleeing. He has a permanent residence, his family and his property in the Czech Republic.

"The judge did not even find any justified concern that the charged person could influence the witnesses who have not yet been heard and who allegedly stay in the United States and Israel," Jungova said.

She said the court is not even afraid of that Dalik would mar the investigation.

Jungova said the state attorney did not submit any evidence of that Dalik will leave the country or influence witnesses.

"I fully respect the court's decision. The investigation continues," Prague High State Attorney Lenka Bradacova told journalists.

She said if the state attorney had any information pointing to that Dalik might frustrate the investigation, the state attorney's office would again submit the proposal that he be taken into custody.

"The risks have not changed since yesterday (Tuesday)," Bradacova said.

The decision to buy 199 Pandurs with an option for another 35 to the total value of 20.8 billion crowns was made by the government of Jiri Paroubek (then Social Democrats, CSSD) in 2006.

At the end of 2007, the government of Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democratic Party, ODS) withdrew from the purchase, citing a breach of the contract terms by the supplier, the Austrian firm Steyr.

Half a year later, the government made a decision on a new order within which it bought 107 APCs for 14.4 billion crowns. The contract was signed in the spring of 2009.

A Czech-Austrian police team started to investigate the purchase of the Pandurs in July 2010.

Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) later published statements by two former Steyr managers that Topolanek's friend Dalik asked for a bribe of about half a billion crowns as a commission for the materialisation of the deal in end-2007.

In May 2011 MfD and daily Pravo published the testimony of Austrian manager Stephan Szuecs, a secret witness who lived under concealed identity in Austria.

His testimony was to cast new light on the Pandur case. He allegedly testified that Dalik asked for a huge bribe, which Dalik dismissed as "utter nonsense."

The daily E15 has written that the police may have based their fraud charges of Dalik on the testimony given by Victor Jackovich, Steyr company's adviser and former U.S. diplomat.

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