Prague State Attorney Drops Court Proceedings Against Andrej Babiš
The decision may still be overturned by Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman, but looks likely to bring the four-year “Stork’s Nest” saga to a close.Image: NSZ.
Brno, Sep 16 (BD) – On Friday, Prague State Attorney Martin Erazím released a statement upholding a ruling made two weeks ago by a Junior State Attorney, Jaroslav Šaroch, which found that criminal proceedings against Andrej Babiš and his company Agrofert should be halted. The allegations relate to EU subsidies claimed by Agrofert for the Stork’s Nest resort near Prague. The European Union, opposition parties, and the Czech Police have accused Babiš of illicitly concealing the true ownership of the centre to qualify for the subsidies.
However, in his statement, Erazím said that: “The evidence gathering led to the conclusion that the Stork’s Nest Farm met the definition of a small and medium-sized business. Despite the established connections between (Agrofert and Stork’s Nest), mainly through family members, Stork’s Nest was correctly assessed as an independent company.”
Opposition parties said they would respect the decision, but expected to see a full justification, as it represents a U-turn by the judiciary, only seen in 1% of cases. The decision led to claims from activists that Babiš had put pressure on the judiciary.
However, Babiš was typically defiant, telling a news conference on Friday: “”If I were not in politics, people would not have heard about Stork’s Nest. From the beginning I was convinced of the innocence of the people who were prosecuted and it is not true that this would be any surprise.” Denying that he had put any pressure on the judiciary, he said: “There has been a media witch hunt against me and my family for three and a half years. People have shouted in squares that Babiš belongs in jail. So I don’t know who was under pressure.
The decision may still be overturned by Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman, but will otherwise draw the case to a close. Babiš, however, still faces other investigations for conflict of interest, due to his alleged continued relationship with Agrofert, which still receives large subsidies from the EU. Babiš claims that he has no conflict of interest as all his financial interests in the company were put into trusts, and he has no direct involvement in the running of the company, which is instead managed by his wife and other associates.
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