THE BANSKÁ Bystrica district court ruled that former Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) deputy Gabriel Karlin, who allegedly accepted a Sk500,000 (€16,600) bribe in 2006, is innocent.
The court has also dropped the charges of corruption against Milan Mráz, Karlin’s party colleague and former head of the Banská Bystrica Regional Office. The court said the prosecution’s evidence was not convincing, the Sme daily reported.
The police detained Karlin in 2003 after they found the Sk500,000 in his suitcase, but the defendants contested and cast doubt on all key evidence – the testimony of the key witness, recordings of phone conversations and the fact that the police found the envelope in Karlin’s possession. The judge referred to significant contradictions in the testimony of the key witness, businessman Juraj Hromada, which helped the suspects’ case.
The prosecution will appeal the ruling. Karlin is the first deputy ever taken to court over corruption charges. Over the past six years, two judges and two prosecutors have been dealing with the case. This year, Karlin sued the dailies Sme, Hospodárske Noviny and Pravda over their coverage of the court trial.