A part-victory has been scored by former Central Bohemia governor and ex-health minister David Rath. The Prague High Court has surprised some observers by agreeing with an appeal from Rath, a physician in Prague suburb Hostivice.
In proceedings behind closed doors, it cancelled a verdict in the corruption affair that engulfed Rath and several other people.
Nothing, however, suggests that the high court did not recognise key evidence against the accused, namely dozens of hours of police wiretaps and the confession of entrepreneur Ivana Salačová.
The case will now return to the Prague Regional Court for a fresh hearing. That gives Rath and his co-defendants an opportunity to convince the court of their statements of innocence – they claim the case mounted against them was fabricated and politically motivated. They also insist that it has taken an inordinate amount of time, even though they alone have caused the delays.
Rath, previously one of the most distinct Social Democrat politicians, was arrested in May 2012 with a box for wine filled with banknotes. Given the worries of investigators that he would abscond abroad, Rath was in November detained. The Constitutional Court later awarded Rath compensation for this move.
The main trial lasted two years. Rath's purported health problems and the switching to different lawyers by other defendants, for example, caused delays. The regional court in July last year found Rath guilty of receiving bribes and handed down an appealable prison sentence of eight and a half years and an order of forfeiture on 20 million crowns worth of his assets. In relation to the manipulation of commissions in Central Bohemia, the former governor accrued CZK 16m, according to the indictment.