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Closely watched trial of ex-minister Rath resumes

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Prague, March 6 (CTK) – The Regional Court in Prague starts dealing with the corruption case of former influential Czech Social Democrat (CSSD) politician David Rath, who occupied the posts of regional governor and minister, after a four-month break on Tuesday.

In the meantime, the judiciary rejected a complaint filed by Rath and other defendants against bias of judge Robert Pacovsky and his court panel.

The court interrupted the proceedings last October over the objections to the work of the penal panel and its chairman.

Rath claimed that Pacovsky cannot decide on his case in an unbiased way and sought his replacement. He said Pacovsky faced a political pressure to convict him again. However, his complaint was turned down as unsubstantiated.

In July 2015, the court’s panel headed by Pacovsky sentenced Rath, 52, former CSSD lawmaker (2006-2012), Central Bohemia governor (2008-2012) and health minister (2005-2006), to 8.5 years in prison and the forfeiture of some 20 million crowns for taking bribes worth millions of crowns linked to the manipulated public orders in the Central Bohemia Region.

However, the Prague High Court cancelled the verdict due to the unlawful use of wiretappings in the autumn of 2016 and returned the case to the Regional Court for reappraisal.

In the meantime, Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) filed a complaint against the High Court’s decision with the Supreme Court. It decided last June that the High Court had breached the law to the benefit of the defendants and that wiretappings can be used in the Rath case.

Along with Rath, another ten people, including construction firms’ managers and executives of healthcare companies, are charged in the corruption case. The police arrested them in May 2012. Courts have been dealing with the case since 2013.

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