Thursday, September 07, 2006

Spyra fined for refusal to testify in Unipetrol case

Prague, Sept 5 (CTK) - The anti-corruption police have fined Polish lobbyist Jacek Spyra CZK 45,000 for refusing to testify in the Unipetrol corruption scandal, Spyra told CTK Tuesday.

"I will file a complaint against the fine," he said, adding that there was no political interest in solving the case justly and he thus refused to give any evidence due to the bullying which he faced in connection with the case.

Zdenek Dolezel, a former head of the Government Office at the time of the former Social Democrat (CSSD) cabinets, has been charged with fraud in the case. He is suspected of asking for a CZK 5 million bribe at a meeting with Spyra and faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

"Since Mr Dolezel has been charged I have being subjected to bullying. Someone is interested in complicating my life," Spyra said.

Spyra, the crown witness and a participant in the meeting, said that he did not want to have anything to do with the case.

Anti-corruption police spokeswoman Alena Vokrackova confirmed that Spyra turned up for the questioning but refused to testify.

Spyra said he did not want to give evidence because he firmly believed that he was being harassed in connection with the case, particularly by the border police while travelling from Poland to the Czech Republic and back.

In 2004 the government of Stanislav Gross (CSSD) sold 63 percent of Unipetrol shares for CZK 13.05 billion to the Polish concern PKN Orlen. Speculation then surfaced that the sale was accompanied by corruption.

The scandal was broke by a TV Nova report showing a meeting, capture on hidden camera, between Spyra and Dolezel, at which Dolezel asked for a CZK 5 million bribe.

At the meeting, Dolezel and Spyra talked about politicians' corruption and Unipetrol privatisation.

Spyra allegedly said at the meeting that Gross, former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek (CSSD), as well as former Christian Democrat chairman Miroslav Kalousek and former Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) had received a bribe from businessman Andrej Babis, owner of the Agrofert agrochemical company.

Spyra allegedly tried to question Unipetrol privatisation or interfere with it to gain advantages for the Seta consortium.

(USD1=21.942 Czech crowns)