David Rath, Czech ex-minister, faces corruption hearing


David Rath, former Czech health minister, signs an autograph for a fan during campaigning in Prague in June 2006.



David Rath, a former Czech health minister and leading opposition figure arrested last week for suspected corruption, may lose his parliamentary immunity following a special meeting of lawmakers on Tuesday.

Rath was detained by police late last Monday as he was carrying a wine box containing 7 million koruna ($355,000), the BBC reports.

Along with seven other people, he is accused of diverting money from a European Union project aimed at renovating a hospital and castle in the town of Bustehrad, and has since resigned as Central Bohemia governor and left the opposition Social Democrat party (CSSD).

However, Rath, 46, remains a member of the Czech parliament. A lawmaker can be arrested and stripped of parliamentary immunity under Czech law, and the Czech mandate committee of the Chamber of Deputies is likely to take a vote on whether he should be open for prosecution on Tuesday, according to the Prague Daily Monitor.

According to Reuters, Rath is the first lower house deputy to be held in prison in the Czech Republic since 1998. He denies the charges against him, and has said in a public statement that the case gives the impression of being the "well-prepared and well-performed social execution of a politician". 

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