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Czech regional governor charged in extensive bribery case

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Liberec, North Bohemia, Dec 21 (CTK) – State attorney Radim Kadlcek has levelled charges against Liberec Regional Governor Martin Puta (Mayors and Independents, STAN), another 12 people and four firms in a bribery case connected with two European projects, Kadlcek told CTK on Thursday.

Puta pleads innocent.

The highest prison term the suspects face is from five to 12 years, Kadlcek added.

He said he was waiting with the charges for the official confirmation from the Chamber of Deputies that Puta had given up his deputy’s mandate, and consequently was not protected by immunity.

“This was the last document I required,” Kadlcek said.

In November 2014, Puta was accused of taking a bribe worth hundreds of thousands of crowns and abuse of power in connection with the reconstruction of St Mary Magdalene Church in Liberec.

The project for 65 million was to receive a European subsidy from the North-West regional operational programme (ROP), but no money was paid to it. The project was assessed as risky from the beginning and it was to get the subsidy only after its completion and overall control.

Puta is charged with bribe-taking and abuse of power for which he faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.

Puta pleads innocent and he has filed a complaint against the accusation unsuccessfully. He only admitted he had made a mistake by meeting some of the suspects at a petrol station and not in his office.

The case also concerns another European project for more than 30 million crowns, but Puta is not involved in this.

The charges are very extensive, including harming the EU financial interest, offering and taking bribes, abuse of power, bargaining advantages in placing public contracts, in public tender and public auction and legalisation of proceeds from criminal activities, Kadlcek said.

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