Extension of custody violated Rath´s rights - Czech Const.Court

Soudkyně Ústavního soudu Ivana Janů (vlevo) a Kateřina Šimáčková.

published: 02.01.2014, 13:50 | updated: 02.01.2014 16:12:47

Brno - The Czech judiciary violated the fundamental rights of David Rath, former regional governor prosecuted for corruption, by extending his custody stay in 2013, the Constitutional Court (US) said today, thereby paving the way for a possible compensation for Rath.

The US abolished the Prague High Court´s June verdict extending Rath´s custody.

Its decision has no direct influence on the ongoing trial of Rath.

In general terms, the US called for custody not lasting longer than necessary and on courts to duly check this significant interference in the right to personal freedom.

Rath was released in November after a 1.5-year stay in custody and he is being tried at liberty now.

During his stay in custody, the US rejected all his complaints, of which he lodged 12 at least, without discussing them in detail.

In his complaint against the upholding of the extension of his custody stay by the High Court in summer 2013, Rath said it violated his rights to personal freedom, court protection and just proceedings.

The High Court did not take the defence´s arguments and proposal into account nor did it properly consider the possibility of replacing custody with a different measure, Rath complained.

He said after keeping him in custody for more than a year, it was no longer possible for the judiciary to justify it based on the facts that were known when the prosecution was launched in May 2012.

The US only complied with Rath´s complaint partially. It said his taking into custody was in order, but problems arose when the custody verdict was being extended.

Judge Katerina Simackova said the High Court in Prague, when upholding custody, only referred to data and information that according to investigators give rise to the fear that Rath might flee abroad if released.

"The longer custody period must be justified by other serious particular reasons that rule out replacement of custody with another measure under the penal code," the US ruled.

The US also found a mistake in that the court, when upholding custody, inadmissibly argued with Rath´s character. It only based its opinion on the fact that criminal prosecution was launched against him. This is at variance with the presumption of innocence, Simackova said.

Rath, then MP and Central Bohemian governor for the Social Democrats (CSSD), was caught red-handed with seven million crowns, a suspected bribe, in a wine box in May 2012 and charged with bribery linked to the planned reconstruction of the Bustehrad chateau, central Bohemia.

He is also suspected of having taken other bribes connected with the purchase of hospital equipment in the Central Bohemia Region.

According to the indictment, he took bribes of 16 million crowns in total. If found guilty, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

The trial of Rath and another ten suspects started last August.

Rath told CTK in reaction to the US verdict today that he is not seeking material compensation.

He said it is more important to say whether the court worked with what he calls manipulated evidence in his case.

Rath said lower instance courts were deciding on custody for him on the basis of police transcripts of wiretappings that he claims differ from what is in the wiretappings.

Rath said, however, the US verdict is important in view of "cultivation of our repressive system."

"The court realises that the institute of custody is abused in the Czech Republic and the danger arising from it," Rath said.

($1=19.909 crowns)


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