High Court Annuls Municipal Court’s Verdict in Capi Hnizdo Trial of Former PM Babis
The High court cannot comment on the decision until it is delivered to the prosecution and defence lawyers. Credit: vlada.cz.
Prague, Sept 16 (CTK) – The Prague High Court has annulled the verdict that acquitted ex-PM and ANO chairman Andrej Babis and his former adviser Jana Nagyova in the so-called Capi hnizdo case in January, and the Prague Metropolitan Court will have to reopen the case, according to an entry in the judicial database.
The court ruled on the case in closed session on Thursday, and cannot comment on the decision until it is delivered to the prosecution and defence lawyers.
Babis told CNN Prima News yesterday that he had no information about the matter. He said the case was 16 years old and a purposeful political prosecution.
The High Court announced on Thursday that it had ruled on the appeal filed by prosecutor Jaroslav Saroch, who demanded that the acquittal be annulled.
According to court spokeswoman Katerina Kolarova, the appeals court’s verdict will now be written and then sent to the parties via the court of first instance. Due to the complexity of the case, she said the written decision cannot be expected earlier than a month from now. Until then, the court will not comment on the ruling.
Babis’s lawyer Michael Bartoncik told CTK on Thursday that he could not comment on the decision until he was familiar with it. The High Public Prosecutor’s Office in Prague and the Prague Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office said the same.
The prosecution alleges that in late 2007 and early 2008, Babis had the Farma Capi hnizdo (Stork Nest Farm) firm separated from his giant Agrofert holding and turned into a joint stock company with bearer shares owned by his children and partner, so that the firm appeared to meet the criteria for subsidies designated for small and medium-sized businesses. Nagyova, then an aide to Babis, filed the successful application for the EU subsidy. After a couple of years of observing the subsidy conditions, the Farma Capi hnizdo firm returned to Agrofert. Both Babis and Nagy deny the charges.
According to the now-annulled verdict of the Prague Metropolitan Court, the proceedings have not proved that Babis and Nagyova separated Farma Capi hnizdo from Agrofert in order to apply for the subsidy, but the reasons instead seemed to be family relations. Judge Jan Sott also said in January that Agrofert and Farma Capi hnizdo were not competing with each other on the same relevant market.
Police have been investigating the case since 2015, and Babis and Nagyova have been under prosecution since 2017. Babis had his immunity from prosecution lifted several times by the Chamber of Deputies, first in September 2017, then in January 2018 in a new composition, and most recently in March 2022. The Prague Metropolitan Court was dealing with the case from September 2022, and issued the acquittal in January 2023.