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Court summons Czech PM as witness in OKD criminal case

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Prague, July 19 (CTK) – The court that is dealing with the criminal case connected with the privatisation of the OKD coal mining company called Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) as a witness today.

Sobotka is to give testimony on September 1.

Sobotka, who was finance minister at the time when the state stake in the OKD was sold, is often a target of criticism over an allegedly disadvantageous decision.

He has dismissed any wrongdoing and he insists on that the state sold the shares for the market price.

The sale was approved by the government of Stanislav Gross (CSSD) in 2004. The stake was gained by Karbon Invest for 4.1 billion crowns.

The relevant state attorney says, however, that the price of the state stake was minimally 9.8 billion crowns at the time.

Businessmen Viktor Kolacek and Petr Otava, who owned Karbon Invest, sold the OKD to RPG Industries group headed by Zdenek Bakala two months later.

Various sources put the selling price of the firm at the time at nine to 12 billion crowns.

The expert who worked out an opinion on the price of the state stake and two former deputy chairmen of the National Property Fund who were responsible for the privatisation are charged in the current criminal case.

They plead innocent, arguing that the fund was nothing but the administrator of the privatisation and that responsibility for the price of the state stake rested with the finance and industry ministries.

Iva Fialova, the chairwoman of the Prague 2 court panel, announced her decision to call Sobotka after she heard an expert who made a revision opinion today.

He said the opinion on the price of the state stake in the OKD was of a bad quality and that it was made using an incorrect method.

($1=22.570 crowns)


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