Close ally of former Czech PM convicted in bribery case

A close friend and key adviser of former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has been convicted of bribery and sentenced to five years in prison.

Prague's Municipal Court says Marek Dalik asked for 18 million euros ($19.7 million) in November 2007 at a meeting with managers from Austria's Steyr, a unit of U.S. General Dynamics Corp. In exchange he promised to use his influence to save a $1.3 billion deal for the company.

A previous leftist government signed a deal with Steyr in 2006 to deliver armored vehicles.

Topolanek's center-right government canceled the deal in December 2007, saying Steyr had breached the contract as delivery was slow and the vehicles had failed technical tests. Topolanek's government later signed a different deal with Steyr.

Dalik pleaded not guilty and appealed Tuesday.