published: 10.10.2012, 15:16 | updated: 10.10.2012 15:54:06
Prague - The Prague 4 court today released lobbyist Marek Dalik, suspected of fraud linked to the purchase of the Pandur armoured personnel carriers (APCs) for the Czech military, from detention, Dalik's lawyer Tomas Sokol has told journalists.
The court rejected the state attorney's request that he be taken into custody, Sokol said.
The attorney wanted Dalik to be held in detention for fear of flight and witness tampering.
Dalik faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty.
The decision to buy 199 Pandurs with an option for another 35 to the total value of 20.8 billion crowns was made by the government of Jiri Paroubek (then Social Democrats, CSSD) in 2006.
At the end of 2007, the government of Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democratic Party, ODS) withdrew from the purchase, citing a breach of the contract terms by the supplier, the Austrian firm Steyr.
Half a year later, the government made a decision on a new order within which it bought 107 APCs for 14.4 billion crowns. The contract was signed in the spring of 2009.
A Czech-Austrian police team started to investigate the purchase of the Pandurs in July 2010.
Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) later published statements by two former Steyr managers that Topolanek's friend Dalik asked for a bribe of about half a billion crowns as a commission for the materialisation of the deal in end-2007.
In May 2011 MfD and daily Pravo published the testimony of Austrian manager Stephan Szuecs, a secret witness who lived under concealed identity in Austria.
His testimony was to cast new light on the Pandur case. He allegedly testified that Dalik asked for a huge bribe, which Dalik dismissed as "utter nonsense."
The daily E15 has written that the police may have based their fraud charges of Dalik on the testimony given by Victor Jackovich, Steyr company's adviser and former U.S. diplomat.
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