Pols prodding probe of costly CME payout

Czech Republic still smarts over $355 mil compensation

PRAGUE — Czech politicians are urging the government to push for an international tribunal to reopen the probe into the ousting of U.S.-backed Central European Media Enterprises (CME) from commercial channel Nova TV.

They hope to get back the massive $355 million compensation the country was forced to pay CME in May, after the tribunal ruled that the Broadcasting Council had conspired to help then-Nova topper Vladimir Zelezny take over the station in 1999.

Move comes despite the fact that both parties had agreed in advance that the award would be final and binding.

Now a member of the Broadcasting Council is challenging the legitimacy of a document used by CME in the tribunal, containing notes taken at a secret meeting Zelezny held with the council.

The country is still stinging from the size of the award and a government-backed committee is attempting to find out who is to blame for the loss. But many politicians feel it would be useless to try to reopen the case.

Zelezny, who was elected to the Czech senate in October, has been stripped of parliamentary immunity and is being investigated for fraud and tax evasion. He was fired from Nova in May.

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