Czech court clears truckmaker's former U.S. chief of bribery

PRAGUE Tue Oct 1, 2013 12:58pm EDT

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PRAGUE (Reuters) - A Czech court on Tuesday cleared the former American boss of truckmaker Tatra of corruption charges related to offering bribes to win army contracts.

Ronald Adams, who bought into the 160-year old truckmaker in 2006, was arrested in August 2012 in an anti-corruption drive by police and prosecutors that also targeted politicians.

A court ruled on Tuesday there was insufficient evidence against Adams.

"We expected the decision to be this way. The charge should never have been filed," Adams told Reuters. "We think the verdict was correct and that the judge saw the truth."

He faced up to five years in prison for a charge of offering 20 million crowns ($1.05 million) in 2009 to former deputy defense minister Martin Bartak, who was a witness in the case.

Bartak, who would later become defense minister, also faces charges of requesting a bribe in a separate court case.

Prosecutors can still appeal the court's decision in the Adams case. "Evidence in the case was broad but not enough to bring a guilty verdict," Czech news agency CTK cited the judge as saying. A court spokeswoman was not available.

Adams ran privately owned Czech truckmaker Tatra after 2006 as its chairman after he purchased a 92 percent stake with three partners. Tatra was sold in an auction in March this year because of debts. Adams left the company in July.

An illegal spying and bribery scandal helped topple a centre-right government in June this year. The country holds an early election in October and corruption is still a major source of anger among voters in the country of 10.5 million.

(Reporting by Jan Korselt; Writing by Jason Hovet)

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