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Court acquits men charged with murdering underworld boss

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Prague, Sept 26 (CTK) – The Prague Regional Court acquitted Pavel Srytr and Jan Kaco charged with having murdered Czech underworld boss Antonin Bela in 1996 since it was not proved they had committed the murder, the court ruled on Tuesday.

The verdict was expected as not only the defence counsels, but also the state attorney proposed that the defendants be acquitted due to doubts about their guilt.

Tuesday’s verdict can be appealed.

Bela was shot dead by a masked commando in his house in Uvaly near Prague in April 1996.

The police shelved the case twice in the past. There were basically no direct pieces of evidence against the perpetrators as a long time had passed since the crime, court panel chairman Ivo Zelinka said.

The police re-opened the case last spring on the basis on new information, primarily the testimonies of new witnesses from the scene of crime.

Srytr and Kaco were arrested only a few days before the case being statute-barred. Both men have long pleaded innocent.

They faced up to 15 years in prison or possibly an exceptional sentence, which ranges from 20 to 30 years, or even life imprisonment in the Czech Republic, if found guilty.

The murder was committed 21 years ago.

There were at least five people in the masked commando that broke into Bela’s house in the night. They opened fire at him from an automatic rifle. Bela died of shooting wounds consequences.

The Bela family members said 12 million crowns and jewels had been stolen in the house after the murder.

Media then speculated about the dubious businessman Frantisek Mrazek being behind Bela’s murder.

Mrazek was murdered ten years later. Srytr was his bodyguard after Bela’s murder.

Srytr and Kaco say Bela’s relatives or the Armenian mafia that was working for him could be behind his murder.

The Bela case was investigated by the Tempus special police team that was formed at the police headquarters in 2013. It is looking into old unresolved cases.

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