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Rath trial continues as ex-minister again fails to finish address

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Prague, July 14 (CTK) – The Prague Regional Court interrupted the final speech of David Rath, former Czech MP and regional governor charged with corruption, after more than six hours yesterday and he is to complete it on Wednesday.
In his lengthy defence, Rath describes in detail particular controversial contracts that were allegedly accompanied by corruption, which he denies.
Rath, a Social Democrat (CSSD) lawmaker (2006-2012), Central Bohemia governor (2008-2012) and health minister (2005-2006), has been charged with bribery linked to the planned reconstruction of a chateau. He is also suspected of having taken other bribes connected with the purchase of hospital equipment in the Central Bohemia Region.
Rath was caught red-handed with seven million crowns, a suspected bribe, in a wine box in May 2012 and arrested.
If found guilty, he would face up to 12 years in prison.
The state attorney has proposed a prison sentence of at least nine years and the forfeiture of Rath’s property.
Rath, who pleads innocent and calls his trial political, started delivering his final speech on Monday speaking for about two hours. He was originally to complete it yesterday, but it lasted longer since he cited the witnesses’ extensive testimonies and wire-tapping recordings.
Rath told reporters after yesterday’s trial that he had managed to finish about two-thirds of his speech. He is yet to speak about the contracts on the modernisation of hospitals and comment on the charges, but he expects to complete his speech on Wednesday, he added.
Afterwards he would also like to use the right to the “last word.” Then the penal panel of the Prague Regional Court will announce the date when the verdict is issued.
State attorney Petr Jirat said it might be next week.
The trial of Rath and ten other suspects was divided into two parts.
In April, the Prague Regional Court convicted nine people in the case, including Rath’s close collaborators, Petr Kott and his wife Katerina Kottova (formerly Pancova), who were given 7.5 years in prison. The verdicts have not taken effect yet.
The case of Rath and Slovak businesswoman Lucia Novanska, charged with organising suspicious tenders, is dealt with separately.
($1=24.522 crowns)

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