- Hans Weber
- December 7, 2023
Prague High Court Annuls Acquittal of Ex-PM Andrej Babis in “Capi hnizdo” Case, Orders Case Reopened
In a significant development, the Prague High Court has nullified the acquittal of former Prime Minister and ANO chairman Andrej Babis, along with his former adviser Jana Nagyova, in the high-profile “Capi hnizdo” case that dates back to January. The decision has ordered the Prague Metropolitan Court to reopen the case, as confirmed by an entry in the judicial database.
The ruling was issued during a closed session held on Thursday, with the court unable to provide further details until the decision is formally communicated to the prosecution and defense attorneys.
Andrej Babis, who has consistently maintained his innocence, expressed his lack of knowledge regarding the development. He referred to the case as a “purposeful political prosecution” and noted its age, spanning over 16 years.
The verdict comes in response to an appeal filed by prosecutor Jaroslav Saroch, who sought to annul the previous acquittal. The court’s spokesperson, Katerina Kolarova, explained that the written verdict will be prepared and then disseminated to the involved parties through the court of first instance. Given the complexity of the case, it is anticipated that the written decision will not be available for at least a month, during which time the court will refrain from public commentary.
Legal representatives for Andrej Babis refrained from providing immediate comments, citing the need to review the verdict thoroughly. Similarly, the High Public Prosecutor’s Office in Prague and the Prague Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office have chosen not to comment on the development.
The “Capi hnizdo” case revolves around allegations that Babis orchestrated the separation of the Farma Capi hnizdo firm from his Agrofert holding in late 2007 and early 2008, transforming it into a joint stock company with bearer shares owned by his family members to qualify for subsidies designated for small and medium-sized businesses. Jana Nagyova, then an aide to Babis, successfully applied for an EU subsidy for the firm. After a few years, the Farma Capi hnizdo firm was reintegrated into Agrofert. Both Babis and Nagyova have consistently denied these charges.
The now-annulled verdict from the Prague Metropolitan Court, delivered in January, concluded that the proceedings did not provide sufficient evidence to establish that Babis and Nagyova separated Farma Capi hnizdo from Agrofert with the intention of obtaining the subsidy. The court suggested that the motivation behind the separation appeared to be rooted in family relations. Furthermore, it asserted that Agrofert and Farma Capi hnizdo were not direct competitors in the relevant market.
This case, which dates back to 2015, has been under investigation by the police, leading to prosecutions against Babis and Nagyova since 2017. Babis had his immunity from prosecution revoked on several occasions by the Chamber of Deputies, most recently in March 2022. The Prague Metropolitan Court initially handled the case in September 2022 and delivered the acquittal in January 2023.
Article by Prague Forum
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- Hans Weber
- December 7, 2023