Two Czech former deputies acquitted of corruption charges


24.01.2014 10:07

Brno - The Supreme Court (NS) has turned down the recourse lodged by Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman against a verdict acquitting former Czech deputies Vit Barta and Jaroslav Skarka (Public Affairs, VV) of corruption charges, NS spokesman Petr Knoetig told CTK today.


Vít Bárta (vpravo) a Jaroslav Škárka u Obvodního soudu v Praze. ČTK ČTK

The NS also dismissed as unsubstantiated the complaint as a breach of the law filed to the detriment of both lawmakers by outgoing Justice Minister Marie Benesova, Knoetig said.

Barta was forced to resign as transport minister in April 2011 after the media reported on his alleged bribing of some fellow party members into loyalty. Then VV deputies Skarka and Kristyna Koci accused him of having attempted to bribe them with 170,000 and 500,000 crowns, respectively.

Barta denied any wrongdoing, arguing that he only lent them the money, but he stepped down from the government.

The NS now confirmed the version about the loans.

The NS is of the view that the circumstances under which the loans were concluded constituted an application of the contracting parties' free will, Knoetig said.

It is of minor importance that the deals were not concluded in writing and that the creditor and debtors did not agree on any date of maturity, the level of the instalments or interests, he added.

The NS ruled that Barta had not provided the money within his business activity, but as a gesture of good will, trying to help problems faced by his fellow party members.

He lent money minimally to Skarka in the past, too, Knoetig said.

"There is also the fact that both debtors were rather close collaborators of the defendant, deputies of the same party (the VV). As a result, there was a relationship between them comparable to that between friends and family members," he added.

At first, a Prague district court gave an 18-month suspended sentence to Barta. Skarka was meted out a three-year prison sentence for having swindled the money out of Barta in order to discredit him.

However, the Municipal Court returned the case for reappraisal with the binding legal opinion that neither Barta nor Skarka breached the law.

The acquittal was confirmed by the Municipal Court last March.

In the meantime, the NS decided that Barta was partly exempted from the powers of law-enforcement bodies for what had been done on the soil of the Chamber of Deputies.

However, the state attorneys insisted on their indictment, arguing that the money from Barta was "no loan and he provided it with the specific aim of influencing their behaviour within the creation of free political competition."

($1 = 20.158 crowns)

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