published: 09.10.2012, 19:48 | updated: 09.10.2012 19:50:42
Prague - A Czech state attorney proposes that lobbyist Marek Dalik, prosecuted over the purchase of Pandur armoured personnel carriers (APCs) for the military, be taken into custody because he might flee and influence witnesses, Prague High State Attorney Lenka Bradacova told CTK.
Dalik, close aide to former prime minister Mirek Topolanek, is prosecuted over an attempted fraud in connection with alleged bribery in the Pandurs case.
A judge is to make a decision on whether Dalik will be taken into custody on Wednesday.
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, Topolanek´s government 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.
According to server Insider, Dalik said in the first questioning the financing of political parties is behind the case.
A source with knowledge about the case told the server that Dalik said if there is any corruption in the Pandurs case, it must be sought in the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) at the time when its chairman Stanislav Gross was prime minister (2004-05).
The Social Democrats have dismissed linking their party and finances with the Pandurs case.
"Police bodies did not contact the CSSD at all in connection with the case in the past two years over which it has been investigated," party chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement today.
He reacted to Dalik´s alleged statements.
Sobotka wrote that this is the ODS´s quite evident effort at diverting attention away from its own scandal towards the opposition two days ahead of the [regional and Senate] elections."
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 anti-corruption police detained Dalik on Sunday evening on his way from a bar and he was accused one day later.
Server Aktualne.cz wrote that Dalik allegedly committed a criminal offence when he promised help in negotiating the contract in exchange for money even though he knew he cannot fulfil it.
That is probably why the anti-corruption police have accused Dalik of an attempted fraud, and not of bribery in which they would have to prove who was the addressee of the possible bribe, among others.
Bradacova would not comment on the legal qualification of the offence. She said, however, a procedural act was carried out last week and that it brought a big progress in the investigation into the case.
Daily E15 wrote that the police have gained the testimony of Victor Jackovich, a former U.S. diplomat in Bosnia and Herzegovina and later a Steyr adviser, who allegedly spoke similarly like Szuecs and who like Szuecs took part in two meetings with Dalik in Prague and Brno.
It was also speculated about that the questioning was carried out by Austrian police.
However, Erich Mayer, spokesman for the Vienna anti-corruption state attorney, told CTK today that he has no information about Austrian detectives having questioned anyone in connection with the case and having sent the testimony to Czech colleagues.
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