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Convicted former health minister Rath running for Senate

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Litomerice, North Bohemia, July 30 (CTK) – Former Czech regional governor and ex-minister David Rath, who was sent to prison for corruption, will run for senator for the Czech Sovereignty (CS) party, Rath told journalists on Monday.

Rath and CS chairwoman Jana Volfova were speaking before the prison in Litomerice where Rath had been remanded in custody.

In autumn, the election to one-third of the Senate will be held.

Rath, Social Democrat (CSSD) lawmaker (2006-2012), Central Bohemia governor (2008-2012) and health minister (2005-2006), was in June again sentenced to 8.5 in prison for corruption connected with public contracts in the region he headed, which was the same sentence that was imposed on him three years ago. The Prague Regional Court also ordered the forfeiture of some 22 million crowns, which the police seized from him.

Rath, who pleads innocent, appealed the verdict.

Right-wing opposition politicians said Rath’s step showed a decrease in the Czech political culture.

“Unfortunately, it is another expression of the fall of the political culture in our country when people suspect of crime run for public posts, small TOP 09 leader Jiri Pospisil said.

Mayors and Independents (STAN) head Petr Gazdik said he hoped people in Litomerice would be reasonable. If not, we would become a country without any scruples, he tweeted.

By being elected to the Senate, Rath would gain immunity from prosecution.

The constitution stipulates that lawmakers cannot be criminally prosecuted without the consent of the houses of which they are members.

If the lower or upper house (the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate) deny the consent, the criminal prosecution is impossible during their members’ tenure.

“We respect the presumption of innocence. One can hear the voices in the ward that if the state can be headed by (criminally prosecuted Prime Minister Andrej) Babis, why David Rath should not run,” Volfova said.

Babis is criminally prosecuted over an EU subsidy fraud.

Rath told journalists on Monday if in the Senate, he would combat the privatisation of the Litomerice hospital, the red-tape and migration.

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