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Former top politician Rath sent to prison for corruption again

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Prague, June 27 (CTK) – The Regional Court in Prague sent on Wednesday former influential Social Democrat (CSSD) politician David Rath to prison for 8.5 years for corruption connected with public contracts, which was the same sentence it imposed on him three years ago.

Besides, Rath, CSSD lawmaker (2006-2012), Central Bohemia governor (2008-2012) and health minister (2005-2006), was sentenced to the forfeiture of some 22 million crowns, which the police seized from him.

Another ten people charged in the same case were also given the same sentences as before in the new trial.

The verdict can be appealed.

Rath, who pleads not guilty, filed an appeal with the High Court on Tuesday already before the verdict was issued.

State attorney attorney Petr Jirat said he would consider appealing the verdict. He is not satisfied with it as the court did not meet his proposal that all property of Rath and a another two defendants, Katerina and Petr Kott, be confiscated.

Rath was charged with bribery linked to the planned reconstruction of a chateau and the purchase of hospital equipment in the Central Bohemia Region.

The case started in mid-May 2012 when Rath was caught red-handed with seven million crowns in a wine box, a suspected bribe for a manipulated commission relating to the reconstruction of the Bustehrad chateau, and arrested.

Rath did not appear in court to hear the verdict on Wednesday. He commented on it at a press conference in Hradcany square later on Wednesday.

He told reporters that by his early appeal he wanted to prove that his prison sentence level had been set beforehand on the basis of a political order. The judiciary is just fulfilling the assignment given by some politicians, he said, naming President Milos Zeman, in particular.

Lawyers have said it is impossible to appeal a verdict which was not yet delivered.

Rath argued that he knew beforehand what would be the outcome of the trial.

The other defendants did not come to the courtroom either.

Katerina Kottova and her husband, former MP Petr Kott, who were the main organisers of the corruption according to the indictment, were given 7.5 years in prison each.

Slovak businesswoman Lucia Novanska was sentenced to five years in prison and a property forfeiture.

Businesswoman Ivana Salacova, who owned one of the building firms involved in the bribery, was given a suspended sentence. She cooperated with the police and helped uncover the criminal network.

Other defendants were managers of building firms and health care facilities who participated in the manipulated tenders. Pavel Drazdansky and Tomas Mlady were sent to prison for five years each, Martin Jires and Jindrich Rehak got five and a half years each, while Jan Hajek and Vaclav Kovanda were given three-year suspended sentences.

The regional court had imposed the same sentences on all of them in 2015.

In 2016, however, the appeals court cancelled the verdict, arguing that the police wiretappings were used illegally and cannot be used in the proceedings. But the Supreme Court ruled last year that the results of the wiretapping could be used as evidence.

This is why the case was returned to the regional court for reappraisal.

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