Stripped of his immunity from prosecution this month, Czech opposition MP David Rath (Social Democrats, ČSSD) has suffered another legal blow with the Constitutional Court rejecting his complaint over his arrest and detention on corruption charges, the issuance of a search warrant, and other aspects of the ongoing police investigation.
In his complaint, Rath — a former regional governor for Central Bohemia allegedly caught red-handed taking a Kč 7 million cash bribe — challenged law enforcement bodies’ decisions linked to his prosecution and his being held on remand. He has also challenged the long-term wiretapping of his phones and the stripping of his parliamentary immunity from criminal prosecution.
The rapporteur of the Constitutional Court’s senate, Dagmar Lastovecká, said the body had ruled against him, without holding a public hearing to explain the decision. Court spokeswoman Jana Pelcová said in a brief statement the judges “did not find evidence of alleged contravention of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the complainant.”
Rath was arrested on May 14 along with seven others on suspicion of bribery and fraud in public projects partly funded by the European Union, chiefly the reconstruction of a chateau in Buštěhrad. The former health minister has maintained his innocence and accused the Czech center-right government of framing him, as part of a political vendetta.
In the wake of Rath’s arrest, the Central Bohemian region cancelled 19 tenders and contracted projects worth some Kč 2 billion. Worryingly for the ČSSD, he has also claimed that whatever money he has received was meant to be used for the center-left party’s campaign war chest, not for his personal benefit.
Police say they found Rath taking a Kč 7 million bribe in a wine box when they pounced on him following a long surveillance operation with reports of a separate sum of Kč 30 million discovered under the floorboards at the house of another one of the seven suspected detained alongside the politician, Kateřina Pancová.
Meanwhile, the politician’s father, Ratmír Rath, 71, has said a police search of his son’s house on the outskirts of Prague could have uncovered the Kč 10 million he himself earned while working as a consultant in the oil-rich gulf state of Qatar, which he had squirreled away in a secret hiding place there.