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Czech Court Convicts Government Party Deputy in Bribery Case

April 13 (Bloomberg) -- A Czech court convicted Vit Barta, a senior member of the smallest ruling-coalition member, of bribery in a case that raised questions over party financing within the government last year.

The court in Prague found Barta, head of Public Affairs’ parliamentary caucus, guilty of bribing Kristina Koci, a party colleague, according to presiding judge Jan Sott, who handed down an 18-month sentence, suspended for 30 months. Barta was found to have paid Koci 500,000 koruna ($26,500) in exchange for her loyalty and an end to critical comments against him, Sott said today as he read the verdict live on Czech television.

Barta, who owned a security and detective agency before joining parliament, denied the charges and said he only lent the money to Koci. He immediately appealed the verdict.

Barta resigned as transportation minister last April when Prime Minister Petr Necas said there were suspicions of “possible corrupt behavior” in relation to Public Affairs’ financing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Laca in Prague at placa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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