Ex-Nova exec faces trial

Guilty verdict would carry 12-year prison sentence

PRAGUE — Former Nova TV general director Vladimir Zelezny is facing trial on charges of tax evasion in the Czech Republic.

The charge relates to art items smuggled into the country on Zelezny’s behalf, evading CZK6.8 million ($250,000) in import taxes. A guilty verdict carries a prison sentence of up to 12 years.

The trial will take place in early June, just before the European elections in which Zelezny is standing in the Independents movement. The Czech Republic formally enters the EU on Saturday. The trial is one of several legal matters involving Zelezny. Still unresolved are charges in another tax evasion case and charges of damaging a creditor, the American-owned TV company Central European Media Enterprises, when Zelezny conspired with the Czech Media Council to wrest control of Nova TV from CME.

CME later won an international arbitration settlement in excess of $500 million from the Czech Republic over the loss of its investment.

Police have also reopened a probe into rumors that a member of the Czech parliament tried to arrange a deal with CME to drop its charges against the Czech Republic and Zelezny in exchange for ownership of a second commercial channel, Prima TV.

Although CME was said to be considering the offer, a deal was never concluded.

Zelezny is a member of the Czech senate, but was stripped of his immunity to prosecution by fellow senators soon after his election.

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