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Attorney: Rath has lots of money, will flee to avoid prison

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Prague, July 25 (CTK) – Czech politician David Rath has hidden hundred of millions of crowns and he is going to escape abroad, possibly to Israel, because he is not willing to serve his prison sentence, state attorney Petr Jirat told Saturday’s issue of daily Lidove noviny (LN).

A voluntary serving of a prison sentence does not seem compatible with the personality of doctor Rath, said Jirat, who is the prosecuting attorney in Rath’s case.

On Thursday, former Social Democrat (CSSD) regional governor, lawmaker and health minister Rath was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for corruption connected with public orders in the Central Bohemia Region. Rath’s defence counsel appealed the verdict on the spot.

The court also ruled that money and property worth some 20 million crowns will be taken away from Rath.

If the appeals court sends Rath to prison, Rath will try to escape, Jirat told the paper.

He said the Czech Republic does not have agreements on extradition of criminals or on legal assistance with some countries, including Israel.

“Rath himself told the court that he has a document proving that his grandfather was a Holocaust victim. Once he produces this document, he will be granted Israeli citizenship,” Jirat said.

He said the police wiretappings of Rath and his accomplices indicate that they received more money in bribes than the sums that the police revealed and seized.

Rath certainly had several hundred of millions crowns, he said.

Petr Kott and his partner Katerina Pancova-Kottova, who were sentenced to 7.5 years in prison each, had the bribes they accepted in cash in a safe in their house. The wiretappings show that Rath offered the Kotts to have the money deposited in the form of gold.

Jirat said Rath invested the money in commercial companies seated abroad in which he officially did not participate. This was very hard to trace, he added.

He said the investigators kept searching for the money that Rath has hidden but that he would not provide any information on this investigation.

Jirat said he is glad that Rath’s case ended with a verdict after three years.

The case was a success thanks to excellent cooperation with detectives Sebkova and Sevcovic, he said.

Jirat said he has not met anybody who would behave in such an impertinent way in court as Rath did.

As a former politician, Rath can blame the opposition and political rivals with his prosecution, which is a big advantage in court, Jirat said.

He said he does not mind that some people seem to believe Rath’s claims that he is an innocent victim. It is crucial that the perpetrator is adequately punished, he added.

Jirat said he had cases that were much larger than Rath’s, such as thefts of car parts from the Skoda Auto car maker with dozens of suspects or a fraud with diamonds worth 400 million crowns.

He said Rath’s case was special in that it concerned European subsidies, harming the interests of the EU, which still was not very common in the Czech Republic.

Jirat has been working as a state attorney for nearly 40 years. He was the prosecutor in the case of finance minister Ivo Svoboda and his aide Barbora Snopkova, who ended in prison for stripping the Liberta firm of assets. Svoboda was the first Czech top politician to be imprisoned.

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