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Czech court reviewing motion to cancel local election results because of vote-buying

Brno, 7.11.2014 22:54, (ROMEA)
"Municipal elections under the microscope" (Collage: NFPK,

Yesterday the Regional Court in Brno began to review a proposal to invalidate the local elections in the Brno-sever municipality.  Local council member Petr Hladík (KDU-ČSL) filed the motion over suspicions of vote-buying.  

Janusz Konieczny of the Anticorruption Endowment (Nadačního fondu proti korupci - NFPK) told the court that he had spoken with about 20 Romani people from an excluded locality who had cast their votes for Mayor Rostislav Hakl of the Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) in exchange for access to a social event featuring free beverages and food. Hakl rejects the allegations.

Hladík originally was not planning to question the election results but changed his mind after being contacted by citizens. "Several dozen residents of Husovice contacted me to ask that I question the results. Given that these same people are willing to testify in court, I decided, after consulting with lawyers, to file the motion," he said.

The file includes a total of 10 witness testimones from members of the election commission, residents of the municipality, and students who conducted exit polls. It also includes audio recordings and photo documentation.

Hladík said the witnesses have stated that Romani nationality residents were motivated to participate in the elections by financial gain, as they were offered anywhere between CZK 300 and CZK 1 000 in cash or a wristband that guaranteed their entry to an event at the Musilka cultural center where beverages and food were available free of charge. Konieczny, who gathered the audio evidence, is testifiying in court today.  

"I spoke with about 20 citizens of Romani nationality who confirmed to me that they had cast their vote in exchange for a wristband. Some knew who they were voting for, while others had just been given envelopes with completed ballots in them. Less than 10 of those with whom I spoke told me they supported Mayor Hakl," Konieczny said.

Hakl rejects the allegations. "I consider this a provocation. All of my political rivals know that I act together with the Romani community, that their citizens wanted to vote for me. I reject any accusations of vote-buying - if that actually happened, it's just part of this political fight. No one from the ČSSD gave anyone anything," Hakl previously told the Czech News Agency.

The court is hearing from other witnesses today. The hearings will also continue tomorrow.

The ČSSD came in third place in this year's local elections, behind the Association of Citizens of Lesná (Sdružení občanů Lesné) and the ANO movement. Four years ago the ČSSD won the local contest.  

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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