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State pays compensation to ex-minister over prosecution

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Prague, March 14 (CTK) – The Czech Justice Ministry apologised and paid compensation to former defence minister Martin Bartak and arms dealer Michal Smrz for their criminal prosecution over suspected corruption in the purchase of Tatra trucks for the army, the ministry told CTK yesterday.
Smrz claimed compensation of 31 million crowns and Bartak of 200,000 crowns. The ministry paid 180,000 crowns to each of them. The two men may take the matter to court if they demand higher compensations.
Bartak and Smrz were prosecuted for about four years. A court acquitted them of the corruption charges in December 2014.
According to the indictment, the defendants wanted Tatra managers to bribe them in exchange for resolving problems with the tests the firm had when delivering several hundreds of its vehicles.
In his then capacity of first deputy defence minister, Bartak allegedly offered a smooth course of the public procurement in exchange for five million dollars to William Cabaniss, then Tatra’s supervisory board head, in 2008.
Smrz, owner of the MPI Group arms maker and a friend of Bartak, was suspected of attempting to extract money from Tatra representatives by pretending influence on and contacts with high-ranking government and Defence Ministry officials.
Smrz said previously that he had incurred the damage of about 100 million crowns in connection with his arms business due to the prosecution.
In May 2014, judge Stanislav Kralik said no real evidence was submitted to the court, even though the criminal file contained hundreds of documents and dozens of testimonies.
($1=24.398 crowns)

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