Credit: Freepik

Former Head of Czech Football Association Jailed For Six Years On Corruption Charges

The court found the pair guilty of attempted abuse of power, breach of trust, and profiting within public procurement. Photo credit: Freepik.

Prague, April 28 (CTK) – A court yesterday imposed six years in jail and a CZK 5 million fine on Miroslav Pelta, former head of the Czech Football Association (FACR), and 6.5 years in jail, a CZK 2 million fine, and a disqualification ban on former deputy education minister Simona Kratochvilova, on charges of manipulating subsidies for sporting events for their own profit.

The Prague Metropolitan Court found the pair guilty for the second time. The other defendants, including the Czech Sports Union (CSU), its director Miroslav Jansta, and FACR itself, were acquitted.

The verdict is not definitive.

The Prague City Court today issued the same ruling as in 2021, and the sentences imposed are identical. The court was required to hear the case again after the High Court of Appeals demanded further evidence be considered.

Under the verdict, Pelta and Kratochvilova, who were romantically involved at the time, together influenced the allocation of sport subsidies to individual applicants in 2017, and thereby attempted to deprive the state of at least CZK 175 million.

The evidence against them included wiretapped conversations in a flat in Prague’s Senovážné náměstí, where the couple met regularly.

Judge Lenka Cihlarova said yesterday that Pelta had instructed Kratochvilova to allocate subsidies to selected applicants, from which he then profited.

“They completely ignored the purpose of providing state support for sports,” the judge said of the defendants.

According to Cihlarova’s ruling, both based their decisions primarily on which influential person – whether from the political or sports environment – had requested support for their projects. They selected the successful applications even before the expert selection committee was formed. The allocation of grants was therefore not decided transparently in accordance with the official criteria, Cihlarova stated.

The court found the pair guilty of attempted abuse of power, breach of trust, and profiting within public procurement. These offences are punishable by up to 12 years in prison. The crimes remained at the attempted stage because the Ministry of Education suspended the payment of the subsidies after Kratochvilova’s arrest and cancelled the relevant subsidy programs, before relaunching them some time later.

The indictment also said that Kratochvilova, in her capacity as a deputy minister, influenced the allocation of state sports subsidies in favour of the Pelta-led FACR and Jansta-led CUS, and that she leaked information to both Pelta and Jansta.

Also among those tried were Jansta, CUS secretary Jan Bohac, and former head of the ministerial sports department Zdenek Briza, but the court found that their actions were not criminal offences.

The state attorney originally requested nine years in prison and a fine of CZK 25 million for Pelta, and ten years in prison and a fine of CZK 6 million for Kratochvilova. For Jansta, he proposed five years in prison and a CZK 2 million fine.

All the suspects pleaded not guilty.

Amid the scandal, Katerina Valachova (CSSD) resigned in 2017 as the minister of education, youth and physical training. The case also cost Kratochvilova and Pelta their posts, with Pelta resigning as the chairman of FACR while remaining in custody.

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