Court overturns political bribery verdict

EVEN IT'S BEEN more than two years since police caught Gabriel Karlin, an MP for the Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), red-handed with a bribe of Sk500,000 (€13,000) in his briefcase, he is still free.

The Banská Bystrica Regional Court on February 23 overturned a guilty verdict in Karlin's case issued on May 9, 2005 by the Banská Bystrica District Court, the Pravda daily wrote.

The Regional Court faulted the District Court verdict mainly with regards to Karlin's alleged accomplice in the bribery case, Milan Mráz. The lower court freed Mráz for lack of evidence. Mráz is the head of the Banská Bystrica regional government.

Regional Court justice Arnošt Škorpil said doubts remained of Mráz's innocence, and that in general, too many questions remain unanswered about the case.

The lower court ruled that Karlin accepted a bribe from local businessman Juraj Hromada in November 2003. Hromada handed over the money in Karlin's HZDS office in Banská Bystrica. In return for the money, Karlin was to persuade Mráz to award Hromada a municipal construction contract for a school gym in Žiar nad Hronom.


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