Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Agroplast manager acquitted of arms smuggling

ČTK |
9 May 2013

Liberec, North Bohemia, May 7 (CTK) - The court Tuesday acquitted for the third time Czech Agroplast manager Petr Pernicka, of arms smuggling as it was not proven that Pernicka really committed the delict, judge Martin Omelka has said.

The other defendant in the case, Zbynek Svejnoha, was not tried as he had used the New Year amnesty.

Both the state attorney and Pernicka have asked for time to consider appealing the verdict.

The Regional Court in Liberec dealt with the case of alleged illegal arms dealing for the third time. The trial has lasted almost nine years.

If convicted, the Agroplast managers could be sentenced up to eight years in prison. They were twice acquitted, but the Prague High Court returned the case twice for reconsideration.

Due to the length of the trial, it fell under former president Vaclav Klaus's New Year amnesty, but only Svejnoha used it, while Pernicka refused to do so.

Due to this, the court had to finish the third part of the trial.

Under the indictment, Agroplast traded illegally in arms from 1990.

The firm had a permit from the Industry and Trade Ministry for trading in military materiel as well as licences for six transactions that really took place.

However, they faced the charges of having also illegally exported an anti-missile system.

The U.S. Administration imposed sanctions on Agroplast in 1999 due to the suspicion of its sale of 40 MiG-21 fighter jets to North Korea.

Witnesses said the six planes seized in Azerbaijan in 1999 had headed for North Korea.

Svejnoha was on board the plane that transported the aircraft.

Both Svejnoha and Pernicka have denied any wrongdoing.

"We did not materialise the deal. It has cost us one million crowns and 15 years of our lives," Pernicka said.

He said the case had been fabricated in order to destroy the firm.

Pernicka said he would demand that the state pay a compensation for the years during which he was persecuted to him.

($1=19.599 crowns)

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